A baby cheetah is one of the most adorable creatures on earth (mind you, I say that about most animals). With their brown eyes and fluffy mantle, I can’t help but say “awwww!” In this article, you’ll learn all about cheetah cubs, including what they eat, what they look like, and what noises they make.
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14 Cute Baby Cheetah Facts
As of 2017, there are 4 official cheetah subspecies. These cheetahs live in scattered pockets throughout Africa, and in Central Iran. But no matter where you find these big spotted cats, they all have cute furry babies.
Baby Cheetah Overview (Acinonyx jabatus)
- Baby Name: Cub
- Gestation Period: 3 months (90-95 days)
- Size of Litter: Usually 3-4 cubs
- Weight: 5.3-10.6 ounces (150-300 grams) in the wild
- Diet: Milk until 4 months, meat is gradually added
1. What is a baby cheetah called?
A baby cheetah is called a cub.
Adults have pretty boring names. Adult female cheetahs are called “females,” and adult male cheetahs are called “males.”
2. How long is the gestation period of a cheetah?
Mama cheetah’s pregnancy will last just 3 months (90-95 days).
Interestingly, cheetahs are induced ovulators. This means that rather than having a monthly cycle, ovulation is brought on by an external factor, like the presence of a male.
But since this is an article about baby cheetahs, that’s enough info on that.
3. How big is a litter of baby cheetahs?
A typical litter will contain 3 or 4 baby cheetah cubs. However, a litter can range in size from anywhere between 1 and 8 cubs.
4. How much does a baby cheetah weigh?
A cub born in the wild will weigh between 5.3-10.6 ounces (150-300 grams) at birth. Cubs born in captivity tend to weigh a little more, around 18 ounces (500 grams).
This is because mama is always provided with food. And as she is not running from predators, she can focus on self-care.
5. What does a baby cheetah look like?
Baby cheetahs are born with all of their spots. The specific pattern is unique to each cub, and will stay with them for life. At birth, their fur is darker and more greyish in appearance.
This is because all of their spots are closer together. In the first few months of their life (as they gain weight), their fur will lighten into its adult coloration.
An absolutely adorable feature of a baby cheetah is its mantle. Similar to a mohawk haircut, these long tufts of silver-grey fur cover their upper back. It’s thought that this aids in camouflage.
Unfortunately (in my opinion), this mantle is gradually shed, starting at around 3 months of age.
Some cheetahs will still have remnants of it as they enter their teenage years.
6. Why do baby cheetahs have mohawks?
There are a few different theories as to why baby cheetahs have mantles. One theory is that the silvery color of their mantle makes them more camouflaged when walking through savannah grassland.
Another theory is that this characteristic makes them look like honey badgers (Mellivora capensis).
Although they sound sweet, honey badgers have ferocious defensive abilities. This may make a predator think twice before attacking.
7. Are baby cheetahs born blind and naked?
Cheetah cubs are born with their eyes closed. They will open their eyes after 4-11 days.
During this time they are very vulnerable. For the first 8 weeks of their lives, mama will move them from nest to nest every 5 or 6 days to evade predators.
As stated above, they are born with hair, spots and all.
8. How does a baby cheetah get cleaned?
From the time they are born until they leave the nest, mama cheetah carefully cleans her cubs, licking them with her tongue.
Often during these sessions, both mom and pup can be heard purring.
9. After how long does a baby cheetah start walking?
Baby cheetahs start walking at 2 weeks.
10. How long do baby cheetahs stay with their mothers?
A baby cheetah will drink its mother’s milk for around 4 months, after which time it will be weaned. By the age of 20 months, a cheetah will gain its independence. They sure do grow up fast!
Cheetahs have three life stages: Cub (birth to 18 months), adolescence (18-24 months), and adult (24 months +). The average cheetah lifespan is 8-15 years.
Young females will often stay within range of their mothers for life. But young males will leave to start a family elsewhere. Cheetahs tend to be pretty solitary.
Females will stick with their cubs, young males may form a “coalition” together, and grown males will be solitary (except for during mating season).
11. What does a baby cheetah eat?
As newborns, cheetah cubs will drink only their mother’s milk. Between 6 and 7 weeks, cheetah cubs will start eating meat as they begin to follow mama on her daily travels.
As stated above, they are weaned at 4 months old. When they are a year old, they start participating in the hunt.
12. What does a baby cheetah sound like?
Baby cheetahs make a variety of cute sounds.
- Churring Noises: A newborn cheetah will make soft churring noises. They also may spit a lot.
- Yelp: A yelp is used by both the mother cheetah and by the cubs. They make this noise if one of the cubs is lost as a means to locate each other. This yelp can be heard up to 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) away.
- Purr: Just like a house cat, these big kitties also purr when they are content, just much louder. A cub will usually start purring a a few weeks of age.
- Whirr: This high pitch sound is made when cubs are fighting with each other. The more intense the fight, the higher the pitch. Siblings, right?
13. Do baby cheetahs like to play?
Cheetah cubs are very active, especially after they reach 4 months of age. During that time they will learn to climb trees and wrestle with each other.
This time period is also when mama starts teaching her cubs how to hunt.
She will catch and let go of live prey in front of her cubs. The cubs can then practice crouching, chasing, and pouncing.
14. What is the survival rate of baby cheetahs?
Cheetahs are active during the day, while their predators (like lions, leopards, and hyenas) are active at night. Plus, mama has to leave the nest to hunt.
Sadly, this makes a sleeping baby cheetah pretty easy prey. In high-predator areas, only 1 in 10 will make it past the first 6 months.
Like baby animals? Read this baby giraffe post next.
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Have you had the privilege of seeing a baby cheetah? What is your favorite thing about them? Please tell me about it in the comments below.