The Cheetah's body is built for speed. It's legs are relatively long compared to its greyhound-like body; it has a big heart and lungs and wide nasal passages. It is the fastest land animal, timed running at speeds of up to 114km/h.
While the lion and the leopard rely on getting close to their intended prey before breaking cover, the cheetah's speed gives it an advantage in the more open savanna. Cheetahs are slightly taller than leopards but not as bulky, probably weighing between 40kg and 60kg.
Can Cheetahs climb trees?
Although cheetahs are members of the cat family, they have dog-like non-retractable claws. This limits cheetahs tree-climbing ability but gives them a speed advantage when charging.
How do Cheetahs kill their prey?
At the right moment, the cheetah will knock the antelope off balance and grab it by the throat as it falls. Because of the relatively small jaws and teeth, cheetahs are not as effective in killing their prey as quickly as lions or leopards, and it can take between five and 25 minutes for its prey to die.
What do Cheetahs eat?
A cheetah's food tastes are not as broad as that of the leopard, and it concentrates mostly on small and medium antelope. The cheetah's diet, comprises of the young of larger animals, as well as warthog, ground birds, porcupines and hares, as well as the smaller antelope.
The cheetah's kill rate is hard to determine, but the consensus is that each cheetah kills between 30 and 150 animals a year, depending on its size, hunting frequency and the condition of the area. Experts believe a single cheetah ideally needs between one and three kilograms of meat a day to stay in shape.
There has been some scientific discussion as to whether they should be classified as part of the dog family because of their non-retractable claws, but they exhibit too many cat-like features, including the ability to purr loudly. Cheetahs cannot roar but can growl and spit like a cat and sometimes they make a peculiar chirping noise.
Unlike lions and leopards, cheetah don't define a territory to defend. They have a home range which they mark with urine, but will not actively fight off other cheetahs. Socially, cheetahs are somewhere on the scale between lions and leopards.
They do not form prides as lions do but small groups of between four and six cheetahs can be common, particularly groupings of brothers. Cheetah probably live for between 12 and 15 years in the wild. Unlike most other major carnivores, they hunt during the day.
Are Cheetahs dangerous? Can a Cheetah kill a human?
Cheetahs are the most timid of the big cats and there is no record in southern Africa of a cheetah ever having attacked a human.
Despite their speed, cheetahs still rely heavily on the element of surprise. Experts believe that a cheetah has a one-in-10 chance of catching an animal that isn't taken by surprise, and that this rises to a one-in-two chance if the quarry is caught off-guard.
Find out everything you wanted to know about Cheetah behaviour, breeding, diet, appearance, habitat and where cheetahs are found. Learn more about Cheetah
In Kruger National Park cheetahs can be found usually living in marula and knobthorn tree savannas, with the core of their home ranges in the open savanna. Learn more about the scientific research on where to find Cheetah