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Coolest Animal On Earth
The Cheetah is without a doubt the coolest animal on earth. Sure
there are others that come close, but the cheetah is simply
unmatched when you examine the evidence.
Cheetahs are the Cutest Baby Cubs! Cheetahs are
so tiny and adorable when they are young, only to grow up to be
one of the fiercest hunters on land. A cheetah's gestation
period lasts about 93 days, just over three months, and a
litter may contain two to eight cubs. At birth, cubs are about a
foot long and weigh less than a pound! 0.6 pounds, to be
precise. Cubs that live to be at least 5
months old can outrun almost any other adult carnivore
- except, of course, another cheetah!
Part Cat and Part...
Cheetahs have many feline characteristics, but they also have
elements from the dog family. They have a greyhound-like body
structure and they bark! Other cheetah sounds include purrs,
bleats, barks, growls, hisses and chirps - but no ROAR-R-R!
Many of their sounds are totally unlike those of any other cat.
Cheetahs are the Fastest Land Animals - This animal is
truly built for speed. Virtually every part of its body is
adapted in some way to maximize running speed. Special paw pads and
non-retractable claws provide great traction. Large nostrils and lungs
provide quick air intake; a large liver, heart and adrenals also
facilitate a rapid physical response. A long, fluid, greyhound-like
body is streamlined over light bones. Small collarbones and vertical
shoulder blades help lengthen the stride. The tail acts as a rudder
for quick turning plus the eye's retinal fovea is of an elongated
shape, giving the cheetah a sharp, wide-angle view of its
surroundings. The dark (really cool looking) tear marks beneath each
eye may also enhance its visual acuity by minimizing the sun's
glare. The spine works as a spring for the powerful back legs to
give the cheetah added reach for each step. But the great speed is
very taxing on their physiques. The top speed, 71 miles per hour
(114 kilometers per hour), can usually be maintained for only
200-300 yards (274 meters).
The Greatest Predator
Cheetahs have the highest hunting success rate of any carnivore. A
cheetah is carnivorous and eats a variety of small animals. While
most cats are
nocturnal predators, the cheetah is primarily diurnal, hunting in
early morning and late afternoon. Since it depends on sight rather
than smell, it likes to scan the countryside from a tree limb or the
top of a termite mound. Other big cats chase only a few hundred
meters, the cheetah chases 3.4 miles (5500 meters) at an average
speed of 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour). The stalk is as
important as the sprint: The cheetah will creep within 50
yards (46 meters) of an intended victim before the final
acceleration. Full sprints last about 20 seconds and almost never
exceed a full minute. If it succeeds in catching an animal the
cheetah will suffocate it by clamping the animal's windpipe,
sometimes holding a clamp as long as five minutes. Very small
animals like hares are killed by a simple bite through the skull.
But whatever the meal - large or small - the cheetah eats
quickly for if challenged, it will most often lose. Cheetahs have
unusually clean eating habits, they do not return to their kill nor
do they eat carrion (they leave the skin, bones and entrails of
their prey). At six weeks the young are strong enough to follow
the hunt and when they are about six months old the mother will
capture live prey for them to practice killing.
Q. Why are there no casinos in Africa?
A. Because there are too many chee...tahs!
No Laughing Matter
The Cheetah resides in Africa, but as human populations
increase, their living space becomes more limited and so does
their food supply. Many animals including cheetahs are at great
risk of disappearing forever. In 1900 there were only about 100,000
cheetah worldwide, and presently there is an estimated 12000 left with about
10% living in captivity. Namibia has
the largest population of wild cheetah - about 2500. Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and
Tanzania have a few hundred to a thousand each, while 19 other countries have
the remaining. Let's hope this awe-inspiring
animal does not go extinct because it would truly be a great
loss and a sign of the direction humanity is heading.
Material used from cheetahspot.com