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Cheetah Gifts

The cheetah is an atypical member of the cat family that is unique in its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. The species is the only living member of the genus Acinonyx. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,510 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h (64 mph) in three seconds, faster than most supercars. The cheetah is a vulnerable species. Out of all the big cats, it is the least able to adapt to new environments. It has always proved difficult to breed in captivity, although recently a few zoos have managed to succeed at this. Once widely hunted for its fur, the cheetah now suffers more from the loss of both habitat and prey. The cheetah was formerly considered to be particularly primitive among the cats and to have evolved approximately 18 million years ago. New research, however, suggests that the last common ancestor of all 40 existing species of felines lived more recently than that—about 11 million years ago.

Facts Regarding Cheetahs

Following are some interesting facts regarding Cheetahs.

1. Cheetahs are the fastest of all land mammals.

2. Cheetahs are in fact capable of generating great bursts of speed, reaching from zero to hundred kilometers per hour in under three seconds.

3. Often considered as the smallest of the big cats, Cheetahs are distinct since they can only purr and not roar like the other great cats.

4. Another unique feature of the Cheetah is presence of semi-retractable claws that enable them to maintain their grip on earth in high speed pursuits.

5. Cheetahs also have distinguishing markings on their cheeks, resembling 'tears', that reflect sunlight and enable the cat to see clearly for long distances during a chase.

6.Essentially built for the kill, Cheetahs have long streamlined bodies and a rudder like tail, that assist the cat in its movement and balance during quick turns in a chase.

7. Yet other adaptations exist that have enabled the Cheetah to evolve into great hunters. These include big heart, lungs and adrenals and wide nostrils - all assisting the felid in making cardiorespiratory adjustments for their stressful charge.

8. Owing to the significant effort that Cheetahs put in their hunting approach, they tire easily. Their body temperature reaches very high levels following their sprint and thus they must rest afterwards. It is at this point in time that they are most vulnerable and often lose their hard-earned kills to other opportunistic predators.

9. Due to competition, Cheetahs hunt during day instead of night and eat quickly after taking down the prey.

10. Cheetahs normally prey upon gazelles, springboks and impalas, employing the throat bite to crush the victim's windpipe. With a success rate of nearly fifty percent, Cheetahs are amongst the most industrious of all hunting felines.

11. Cheetahs have a defined social structure, with females leading a solitary life after rearing of the cubs and males often bonding and hunting in groups to lead a territorial existence.

12. Even though Cheetahs have a large litter size, lack of genetic variability and conflicts with larger predators including lions, leopards and hyenas mean that only a fraction of Cheetah cubs reach adulthood.

13. Unique from leopards and jaguars due to the presence of spots instead of rosettes, and a lighter body, Cheetahs are placed into a separate genus for taxonomic purposes, Acinonyx Jubatus.

About the Author
The author is a blogger about cats and an expert on cheetah.




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