Female cheetahs are usually solitary and have home ranges in which they roam. Males may form small groups and will stake out and defend a territory, usually one that overlaps several female home ranges. After mating, the female raises the cubs alone and teaches them how to hunt until they are about 15 to 17 months old.
Cheetahs are very vocal and use many sounds to communicate with one another. These different sounds include chirping, growling, churring, stuttering, hissing, yowling, and purring. When in groups, they will often groom or rub heads with each other.
Cheetahs’ claws are non-retractable, which may improve their grip when running. Their tails act as rudders when they reach high speeds, helping them to make sharp turns.
Distribution: Dry forests, grasslands and deserts scattered across the African continent, and in the central deserts of Iran.
Diet in the Wild: Gazelle, impala, wildebeest, kudu, hares and ground dwelling birds
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Fortified feline and canine diet
IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable, population decreasing
Threats: Habitat fragmentation and loss, conflict with farmers, poaching
The cheetah’s spine will flex to extreme angles when it sprints at top speed. It also has pivoting hips, and shoulder blades that do not attach to its collar bone. These adaptations allow the cheetah to achieve a maximum distance between its front paws and hind paws at one point in its stride, and then to pull its hind paws in front of its front paws at another. Using this unique running style at top speed, a cheetah can cover 22 ft (6.7 m) of ground in one stride!
The cheetah’s top speed is around 70 mph, and it can accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in a mere 3 seconds.