Cheetahs Essay Research Paper For my vertebrate

Cheetahs Essay, Research Paper

For my vertebrate animal I chose the Cheetah. The Cheetah

or Acinonyx Jubatus is an endangered species. They were

once found throughout Africa and Asia, but are now only

scattered throughout Eastern Africa and a small region of

Southwestern Africa. Cheetahs are threatened by increasing

loss of habitat, decline in prey, and increased poaching for

fur trade. The Cheetah has a tawny coarse coat with round

black spots or ?tear stripes? from the corner of the eyes

down to the sides of the nose. They are slender and long

legged, and their claws are non-retractable. They also have

small heads with high set eyes and small ears. Cheetahs

average 44 to 53 inches in length, with an additional tail

length of 26 to 33 inches. The Cheetah?s average weight is

86 to 143 pounds. Male Cheetahs are slightly larger than

females. The Cheetahs flexible spine, oversized liver,

enlarged heart, slender muscular body, and unique claws

make it the swiftest hunter in Africa, and the fastest animal

on land. A Cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. In

the grassy plains and dense bush females live alone, except

when raising cubs. Males live alone or with a small group of

brothers from the same litter. Cheetahs hunt in late morning

and early evening. They stalk their prey first, until they are

within 40 to 90 feet before the chase begins. Chases last

from twenty seconds to one minute, and only about half are

successful. If the Cheetah does catch its prey it suffocates it

by biting it underneath the throat. Then the carcass is

dragged of to a safe place to be eaten. Cheetahs prey on

animals such as Gazelles, Wildebeest calves, impala, and

other hoofed animals weighing up to 88 pounds. A Cheetahs

sexual maturity is reached in about 20 to 23 months. Mating

can occur any time of year. Gestation lasts 91 to 95 days.

Litter size can be 1 to 8 cubs, but the average is 3. Cubs are

smokey gray in color with long wooly hair running along their

backs. Cubs are moved around from one hiding place to

another every few days so they are not found by other

animals. One third of cubs survive to adulthood. Cubs stay

with their mother for approximately one year. Cheetahs live

up to 12 years in captivity, and it is unknown how long they

survive in the wild.


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