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Cheetah

World of Cheetahs (Coming Soon)

This WORLD features one of the most endangered cats on the brink of extinction, also known as the fastest land mammal on earth.    

Common Name:  Cheetah

Genus/Species:   Acinonyx jubatus

Range:

Cheetahs were originally distributed across all of Africa excepting the rain forest and the middle of the Sahara, and also across much of Asia Minor, Turkestan and India.

Habitat:

The dry savanna is the preferred habitat of cheetahs, both in Africa and, earlier, in Asia.  This habitat has a four to eight month drought period, and the annual rainfall is 5 to 10 m.  The grass is about chest high and the only trees found are palms and a few deciduous varieties.
Physical Appearance:

Distinctive cheetah characteristics include the short, highly arched skull, the long legs, in which not the metatarsals but the femurs are elongated, the mane of the newborn cheetahs, a completely atypical hunting technique, and primitive dentition. The cheetah can almost be called a dog with a cat's head. The paws are very narrow compared to those of other felids. The claws are non‑retractile, for their claw sheaths are vestigial. However, young cheetahs possess well‑developed sheaths until they are fifteen weeks old and they can retract their claws completely into these sheaths. After that time the sheaths degenerate. Because of the absence of claw sheaths, cheetah tracks bear claw marks and thus are unlike those of any other cat. They have 30 teeth. The eyes are yellow and the pupils contract to circles.

Reproduction:

Once a male and female have mated, they stay together for a long period of time.

The male reportedly helps raise the young.  After the 90 to 95 day gestations, the

female bears one to eight cubs in a protected site of rotting bushes or grass.

Births in eastern Africa usually take place from March to June.  The young open

their eyes after eight to eleven days.  Half the cubs die in the first eight months.

STATUS in Natural Habitat:

Endangered.  Almost certain to become extinct due to the limited gene pool of existing animals.

Cool Fact:

As its build suggests, the cheetah is a superb runner.  A cheetah can easily attain speeds of 75 mph without undue effort.  This tremendous sprint is accompanied by a great energy loss that leads to near exhaustion after several hundred meters.

 

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