The cheetah is one of Africa’s most famous animals. Most people in the world are able to identify this elegant, long legged cat with its golden, spotted coat.
The cheetah’s Latin name is Acinonyx jubatus. It is one of the larger members of thefelidae(cat) family. However, as we’ll see further down the page, the cheetah isn’t usually included as one of the ‘big cats’.
The cheetah is build for speed rather than strength. Although taller than a leopard, it is not as heavy. The cheetah’s body is around 1.5m (5ft) in length. Its tail adds another 85 cm (33 in.). Its shoulder height is between 80 and 90 cm (30 and 36 inches).
The adult Cheetah weighs between 50 and 64kg (110 and 140 lb); males tend to be slightly larger than females.
The spots are round, and between 2 and 3 cm (0.8 – 1.2 in.) in diameter. The tail also has these spots, but towards the end they merge together to become rings.
At the very end of the tail is a bushy, white tuft. Cheetah cubs use this to keep track of their mother’s position when they are in long grass.