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Species Spotlight: Asiatic Cheetah

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 7/31/2009

This article focuses on the Asiatic cheetah, a big cat that is nearly extinct.

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    The Asiatic Cheetah is a wild cat that can be found in Northern Iran and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that only fifty to sixty of these big cats remain in the wild. These cats live approximately twelve to fourteen years on average. Asiatic cheetahs are very rare and nearly extinct. This cat is considered the fastest land mammal in the world.

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    Physical Characteristics

    Asiatic Cheetahs grow to approximately 44 to 53 inches in length (head to body) as adults. Their tails range from 26 to 33 inches as adults. As adults, their height can reach 32 inches and they can weigh 86 to 143 pounds. Asiatic cheetahs tend to be slender and have long legs. Their claws are semi-retractable and blunt. Their fur is short, coarse and tan in color with several small, black, round spots. They have high-set eyes and small heads with a “tear mark" that is black in color that begins at the corner of each eye and runs down to the sides of the mouth and nose.

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    Reproduction

    Very little is known about the reproductive habits of these cats. It is believed that the Asiatic cheetah tends to breed during the mid-winter months. Females are thought to have one to four cubs at a time, but average two cubs at a time. It is believed that cubs reach independence at about eighteen months old. It is estimated that approximately 50 to 75 percent of cubs do not live longer than three months.

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    Range and Habitat

    Asiatic cheetahs can be found in Northern Iran and Sub-Saharan Africa. They can live in several different types of habitat. These include areas with tall grass, grassy plains, places with large plants and bushes and in treeless plains.

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    Diet and Hunting

    Asiatic cheetahs are carnivores. These cats have been spotted hunting during the day, but they sometimes also hunt at night. They tend to hunt more often during the day because hunting at night means they might come into a conflict with other bigger predators such as leopards and lions. These big cats tend to prey on oryx, gazelles, kudu, impala, young warthogs, game birds, rabbits and hartebeest.