Cheetah

The African Savannas

The animal that I chose is one of the most well known organisms that has a lot of characteristics. My organism that chose is the fastest predator and animal on Earth....the cheetah (chee-tah). The cheetah lives in savannas. These savannas are like semi-deserts and can be wet in some areas. A savanna is a large grassland with trees scattered here and there on the land. The plain is made out of low and high grasses. If a few shrubs grow they will be very small. This is so because lately the years have been getting hotter. Scientists say that 1998 was the hottest year ever! It could either be because the Earth is getting closer to the sun or that we are making too many greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) and the heat can't escape. The savanna that the cheetah lives in is very dry. The climate is hot. The usual, annual rainfall is only 4-6 inches (100-400mm)a year! During the dry season is worst because all the rivers and streams dry up and there is no water.

Body Features

The cheetah has a very different body structure than most of the big cats in the world. The cheetah is a very long and slim animal. Another good adaptation for this animal because if the cheetah was like a bulky, muscular tiger or lion it is harder for the cheetah to run. Like human runners the need to be slim and also muscular It has a very long body,small head, and short ears. The thing that is very interesting about this big cat is that the paws are very narrow and seem to be more like a dogs rather than a big cat. His claws are fully retractable (this means that when they need to use their claws they have a special way of doing it. The can make their claws come out of their paws and go back in). This is a very good adaptation because the cheetah is a sprinter more than a long distance runner. Human sprinters use a very special kind of shoes. That have spikes on the bottom for better grip. This is the same way cheetahs run.Their claws are also only slightly curved. Curved claws are good in the process of catching the animal when their claws dig deep into the earth for better grip so it can't slip.

 

Fur

Their fur is kind of tawny and a kind of a buff color. This is a good adaptation because the can camouflage very easily since their fur is the color of the grass. This makes it easier for them to hunt their prey. On the males there is more of a kind of mane on them. The most common way to identify the cheetah is by the long tear drop stripe that runs from the corner of their eyes to the corners of their mouths. There are also various different rings and some white fur on the tip of the tail. This is another one of it's distinct features. They have medium sized black spots (there is also actually a indistinct black spot inside also). These spots are also like the human finger print. There are never two cheetahs who have the same spots.

 

Cheetah Cubs

Usually mothers only have about four or five baby cubs . The mother is a very good mother but it also needs some help in case the cubs roam and get lost (the mother has to watch out for this because most of the time when this happens the cub is to weak to protect itself from predators so it may get eaten). One way that a mother cheetah calls it's young is buy waving its tail. It does this because its white tip knows its his or hers mother. The other way it can signal their young is buy their little "peeps" and "prrps" it makes (it can be heard a mile away or 2 km). These two ways of calling to the cubs reduces the risk of a lot of the population to decrease, so they have another good adaptation. On the baby cub there is also a mane that is on the back of the cub. This is a very good adaptation because they are able to camouflage with the tall grass on the savanna also.

Hunting

 

The main choices of the cheetahs meals are:Thompson gazelle, other kinds of antelope,ostriches,hares and guinea fowl. They usually hunt in the early morning, cool of evening or by moonlight. If they also hunt in groups they could bring down a wildebeest, or zebra. Usually you can often see them hunt in pairs or even family groups.

 

The World Record Title

As a lot of people know the cheetah is the fastest animal on Earth! A famous trained cheetah was clocked in at the speed of 75 miles per hour. This test was conducted by having a cheetah in an enclosed area. At the other end was a piece of meat that the cheetah had to go get it. I think that the scientists did this because they observed and saw that the cheetah had all of the characteristics of a born runner.

 

References:

http://www.cattales.org/cheetah.html

 

By: Carolyn C.

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