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The cheetah is a predatory mammal, which is the fastest land animal (in pursuit of prey, it can reach speeds of up to 115 kilometers per hour). Five of them live in Africa and two in Asia.
Pregnancy in a cheetah lasts an average of three months. The average life expectancy is twenty years. The habitat of cheetahs is limited to Africa, India, Central and Western Asia, but the Asiatic cheetah is on the verge of extinction.
The cheetah is relatively weak among large predators, because of this, its prey can be selected by stronger lions, leopards, hyenas. Cheetahs climb trees well, especially young individuals do it very skillfully. Up to 15 weeks, cheetah cubs are able to retract their claws, after which the claws become practically immobile.
Cubs are born blind, their eyes erupt about the tenth day after birth. Only a third of cheetahs survive to an adult state (this is despite the fact that the mother is trying in every way to hide her offspring). Cheetah cubs are very energetic.
The cheetah is not a natural hunter - his mother teaches him this necessary art. Captive-born cheetahs are incapable of sneaking up and chasing their prey.
Outwardly, the cheetah is similar to other representatives of the feline family. Rather, on the contrary, it differs markedly from them. The cheetah has a slender, muscular body; the head is small, the eyes are set high. The cheetah's ears are small and rounded. Due to the fact that the cheetah has almost no fat deposits, it may even seem somewhat fragile. The cheetah's fur has a sandy yellow color. There are small black spots throughout its area. The sides of the cheetah's muzzle are endowed with thin black stripes. The mass of representatives of this genus varies from forty to sixty-five kilograms. The body length ranges between 115 and 140 centimeters. The cheetah's tail is massive enough. Its length is approximately equal to eighty centimeters.
Pregnancy in cheetahs lasts three months. The duration of pregnancy varies from 85 to 95 days. The number of cubs born varies from two to five (six is very rare). Kittens live next to their mother for thirteen to twenty months. The average life span of cheetahs in their natural habitat is twenty years. In zoos, cheetahs are able to live much longer, but in captivity, cheetahs reproduce very poorly, and those cases when offspring of cheetahs were obtained in zoos can be called a fluke. And in general, keeping cheetahs in a zoo is very laborious.
The female cheetah fearlessly protects her cubs. She perfectly hides them from enemies. At the same time, during the first months of the cubs' life, the mother transfers them from one place to another (since cheetahs do not equip their dens) - however, these measures save only about a third of the cubs (this is how much they live to adulthood). Cubs are born blind, their eyes open about the tenth day after birth. Milk teeth change to permanent ones at the age of nine months. Together with their parents, cheetahs live for about one and a half years, after which the cheetahs begin an independent adult life.
Raising baby cheetahs is not easy at all. This comes from the fact that cheetah babies are very energetic and always do not mind frolic. The following picture can often be observed - small cubs catch the mother's tail, while the mother herself is resting. Often, fun-loving kids forget about the possible danger.
Cheetah cubs are amazingly beautiful. Their children's outfit is simply amazing - especially a lush and fluffy robe on the back, which no other representatives of the feline family have anymore (it protects the baby from enemy eyes). When the cubs reach two months of age, this mantle begins to turn into a mane. At the same time, it exposes its black spots on the skin on the back. At approximately three months of age, only a small fluff remains from the mantle, which covers the shoulders of the cubs.
Cheetahs are daytime predators. The objects of their hunting are mainly small ungulates. For example, wildebeest calves, impalas, gazelles. In addition, cheetahs often hunt hares. Hunting most often occurs in the early morning or, conversely, in the evening (but it is not yet dark). This is due to the heat that lasts during the daytime in their habitat. To a greater extent, cheetahs are guided using sight, not smell.
Cheetahs, like other felines, wait for prey in ambush. No, this is where cheetahs differ from them. These predators pursue the prey in a short run, after approaching it within a distance of about ten meters.
The cheetah is the fastest animal. Cheetahs can reach speeds in excess of one hundred kilometers per hour (110-115 km / h) when chasing prey. In two seconds, individuals of this genus are able to accelerate to seventy-five kilometers per hour. The run of the cheetah consists of jumps. The length of the latter can vary from six to eight meters. The jump lasts approximately half a second. In pursuit of prey, the cheetah's respiratory rate increases to 150 times per minute. An interesting fact is that this amazing predator can change the direction of its run almost at lightning speed. When the prey is overtaken, the cheetahs knock it down with a paw. After that, they begin to choke. If the sprint race failed (the victim was not overtaken in a short period of time), then the cheetah refuses to continue the pursuit of prey. This is due to the high energy consumption during a quick short run (which rarely lasts more than a minute). The cheetah is simply not able to continue a long hunt and chase, the data indicate that about half of the chases end in failure.
Cheetahs climb well on spreading trees. Moreover, they love this activity. True, young cheetahs do this task much better - this is due to the fact that young cheetahs have sharper claws. As for the claws, it should be noted that they are quite large (especially the claw of the first toe) on the forelimbs, and their sharp ends are bent forward. With the help of these claws, overtaking the prey, the cheetah inflicts such a strong blow on it that the prey flies to the side. Up to about three months of age, cheetah cubs are able, like kittens, to retract their claws. However, after their claws become practically motionless. In this regard, one can draw an analogy between their pasterns and a dog's, and in general the construction of the body of individuals is very similar to the silhouette of a greyhound. Some aspects of behavior are also similar to that of dogs.
The cheetah is a born hunter. It's not like that at all. The cheetah becomes a hunter. And then only if his mother teaches him. So, cheetahs, born not in their natural habitat - in captivity - cannot sneak up on the chosen prey and pursue it.
The cheetah is a weak predator. Weak among other large predators such as leopards, lions, hyenas. The latter often take prey from cheetahs. At the same time, the above predators take advantage of the fact that the cheetah needs about half an hour to rest after a quick and exhausting hunt.
Cheetahs inhabit Africa. In addition to the African continent, these animals are found in India, Central and Western Asia. However, in our time, the Asian cheetah is on the verge of extinction and is extremely rare. It is quite rare to find it in Azerbaijan and Armenia; in Turkmenistan, a cheetah like that was last recorded in the sixties of the last century. Cheetahs are more prone to living in open spaces - in semi-deserts, savannas, etc. This is due to the peculiarities of their hunting.
The cheetah makes loud noises. They are somewhat reminiscent of abrupt bird chirping and are audible within a radius of two kilometers. This is how the cheetah is able to communicate with its relatives and cubs.
The presence of a peaceful disposition is characteristic of the cheetah. When this predator is satisfied, he, just like a domestic cat, begins to purr. In addition, cheetahs get used to humans unusually quickly. This predator can even be tamed. Tourists and travelers arriving on safaris on the African continent are amazed by the fact that these peace-loving are not shy - for example, an adult cheetah can easily sprawl in the shadow of a tourist van. There are even cases when curious cheetahs jumped onto the hood of a car, after which they began to look at the passengers through the windshield. The cheetah mother and her offspring eat together very peacefully. Quarrels and fights are completely excluded. Nature knows even such cases when, in drought conditions, juicy wild melons were included in the diet of cheetahs.
Hunting cheetahs were highly valued in Russia. In the tenth-twelfth centuries, Russian princes often chased saigas across the steppes with the help of cheetahs (in those days they were called Pardus). A cheetah trained to hunt in Russia was considered a very valuable gift.
The last ice age almost caused the extinction of cheetahs. Apparently, this is true. Cheetahs living in our time are close relatives. It is because of this that they have some signs of genetic degeneration, for example, cheetahs have a high infant mortality rate. Approximately 60-70% of the cubs do not survive to one year. This kind of genetic degeneration is also associated with incest due to closely related ties.
The king cheetah is a very rare mutation. The difference between the royal cheetah and the usual one lies in its color - the coat of the first has merging spots on the sides (black) and black stripes that run along the back of the cheetah. The royal cheetah was first seen only in 1926 - at that time it was assumed that he was a hybrid of a leopard and a cheetah. A little later, genetic tests did not confirm this version. The difference in color was the reason for the classification of the royal cheetah as a separate species, but disagreements about the classification of this species of cheetah did not end until 1981. It was then that a cub with the coloration of a royal cheetah was born from parents with the color characteristic of all other cheetahs. This meant that such a coloration of the royal cheetah is nothing more than a mutation - a recessive gene is responsible for the coloration of royal cheetahs. The latter manifests itself only if inherited from both parents. Royal cheetahs are capable of interbreeding with common cheetahs. At the same time, they give normal full-fledged offspring. There are other known deviations in coloring from the normal coloring of cheetahs, for example, in nature there are albino cheetahs and black cheetahs. The latter mutation is called melanism. Black cheetahs are endowed with a black skin with dull spots on it. In addition, there are red cheetahs on Earth. Their skin is golden in color with dark red spots on it. There are also yellowish brown and light yellow cheetahs. The spots on their skins are dim reddish.