It is undebatable that the cheetah is the fastest animal. Scientifically known as Acinonyx jubatus, the cheetah has exemplary acceleration, running from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds. However, whether the species belongs to the big cat family has always been debated.
Many argue that big cat members must roar. Typical inclusions include lions, jaguars, leopards, and tigers. On the contrary, the cheetah only purrs, making its membership debatable. That aside, there are a lot of fun facts about these speedsters. We discuss the fascinating cheetah behaviors below.
Cheetahs Social Behavior
Of all felids, cheetahs have the most unique social behavior. While adult females are primarily solitary and only interact during mating, males are social. Male cheetahs prefer living in set territories with their coalition.
The coalitions usually consist of brothers from the same litter who manage to stick together after leaving their mother’s care. However, there are cases when non-related males have formed coalitions. The main reason for sticking together is to protect their territory. On the contrary, females usually only have their cubs for company, even so, for a limited time.
Cheetahs Communication Behavior
Depending on the message they want to send, cheetahs growl when in danger, bark when communicating with their mates, and purr when breathing. Males mark their territories by urinating or rubbing their chick and chin. Communication between a mother and cubs is usually by chirping.
Cheetahs can also produce agonistic sounds, including coughing, hissing, moaning, meowing, and bleating. Bleating usually represents distress. For instance, bleating might ensue if another predator wants to take away a cheetah’s kill.
The Feeding Habits of Cheetahs
Cheetahs are carnivores. They feed on impalas, gazelles, calves, hares, and birds. Their agility, body symmetry, and top speed allow them to hunt successfully. Their semi-retractable claws enable their limbs to stay on the ground and maintain stability as they pursue their prey. The claws are similar to the spikes on athletes’’ shoes.
Cheetahs do not always rely on pace, even though they can reach top speeds that no other species can. They prefer waiting until the prey is close and then pounce. The species usually kill their hunts by biting their throats with sharp canine teeth.
Adult cheetahs eat about 2 or 3 times a week. However, a female cheetah with cubs must hunt daily to cater to the little ones and produce enough milk. Due to their relatively smaller bodies, cheetahs usually avoid big-bodied targets such as giraffes, zebras, and buffaloes. They eat more in captivity than in the wild.
Cheetah Mating Behavior
Cheetahs reach sexual maturity by 20 to 23 months, with some stretching to 18 months. These species do not have a specific season for breeding; they do so throughout the year. The typical estrous cycle for a female cheetah is 12 days, within which they are “on heat” for about 3 days.
Female cheetahs can mate with multiple males; they are polygamous. When ready for copulation, females urinate on rocks, bushes, where the males pick up the scents. Once they do, male cheetahs yelp periodically, and if the female responds with more yelping, they “link up.” Couples copulate about 5 times a day.
Nocturnal Vs. Diurnal Cheetah Behavior
Apart from their inability to roar, cheetahs are primarily diurnal, unlike most big cats that are nocturnal predators. This explains why cheetahs prefer hunting during the day – they rely more on their sight than their sense of smell.
Additionally, since most bigger predators, such as lions, love to hunt and are more active at night, their diurnal nature helps minimize competition during the day. This is true, especially in regions where they are sympatric, including Okavango Delta.
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animals. This and their mating, feeding, and communicating habits make them adorable and worth learning more about. Their social behavior is also worth noting: while female cheetahs prefer living in solitary or with their cubs, males love to form coalitions.
The coalitions, which include siblings or non-relatives, are formed to protect their territories. Cheetahs can purr, chirp, bleat, or growl, depending on the message they are passing. They reach sexual maturity after about 20 to 23 months, with some stretching to 18 months.