The beautiful Cheetah

A newsletter popped into my inbox yesterday from a lodge in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa.  At the bottom they added some really interesting facts about Cheetahs which I didn’t know.  So I thought I would do a little research and see what else I could learn for myself.

Here are the facts in the newsletter from Nambiti Hills:

–  A cheetah’s body temperature at rest is around 39ºC (102.2F).  When the cheetah hunts, her body temperature gets up to 242.5ºC (468.5F)!
–  A cheetah can eat 14 kg of meat in a sitting. That’s close to one third of her body weight
–  A cheetah’s heart, liver and lungs are nearly three times the size of those of a lioness. That’s because they need to get as much oxygen into their system as they can

Using a few resources I found a few other things about the Cheetah that I don’t think are common known facts:

–  A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles (96 kilometers) an hour in only three seconds
–  The cheetah hunts by vision rather than by scent. Prey is stalked to within 10–30 m (33–98 ft), then chased. This is usually over in less than a minute, and if the cheetah fails to make a catch quickly, it will give up. The cheetah has an average hunting success rate of around 50%
–  When cheetahs run fast they use their tales to steer.  Their tails work like a rudder of a boat to help them turn the direction they want to go
–  Cheetahs do not roar like lions, but purr just like a domestic cat. They also chirp like a bird, hiss, whine, growl in anger or fright and moan in distress
–  The cheetah has a small head with high-set eyes. Black “tear marks”, which run from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth, keep the sun out of its eyes and make it one of the most deadly hunters
–  It is the only felid with non-retractable claws and pads that, by their scope, disallow gripping (therefore cheetah cannot climb vertical trees, although they are generally capable of reaching easily accessible branches).

Most wild cheetahs are found in Eastern and South Western Africa. Perhaps only 7,000 to 10,000 of them remain, and those are under pressure as the wide-open grasslands they favor are disappearing at the hands of human settlers.  The average life cycle for a Cheetah is up to 12 years in the wild, but most survive around 8 years and in captivity they can live up to 20 years.

If you looking to see these animals in action then chat to us about a vacation to Phinda, the Eastern Cape, Namibia or Tanzania and we can tailor make the perfect itinerary for you!  I have only seen these beautiful mammals a couple of times in my life and always hold my breath.  I find them magic!

And in case you have missed it – don’t forget to go and see The Last of the Lions, a National Geographic movie!