Cheetah at Davison's Camp, Hwange | Experience Africa Safaris


Acinonyx jubatus

The fastest land animal

Behavior and diet

Reaching speeds of 115 kp/h (70 mph), the cheetah is the fastest land animal. It can go from 0 to 100 kph (60 mph) in just three seconds. The cheetah is the smallest of the three big cats in Africa, with the lion and leopard being the other two cats. Unlike the lion and leopard, it cannot roar. But it can purr and mew like its domestic counterparts. Another distinguishing characteristic of the cheetah is that it is a diurnal hunter, which means it hunts during the day. It prefers tall grass savannahs where it can silently watch and stalk its prey. The cheetah is a carnivore and it eats a wide range of prey, with a strong preference for various types of antelope. After a gestation period of 90 to 98 days, female cheetahs typically have a litter of three cubs (although up to nine is possible), and live with them for one and a half to two years. The cheetah's mortality is very high during the early weeks of its life; up to 90% of cheetah cubs are killed during this time by lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs or even by eagles.

Did you know?

  • The cheetah is the only big cat that doesn't possess retractable claws. Its claws act like track spikes and help it achieve great speeds.
  • The cheetah is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds of over 110 km/h (70 mph).
  • Cheetah can purr.
  • Cheetahs are diurnal hunters, which means they hunt during daylight hours.