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The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a spry feline that, due to a combination of extraordinary speed and strong, sinewy physiques, is quite a skillful and sneaky predator. Because cheetahs are standard carnivores, they go after a large array of different prey animals. Plant matter just isn't part of the diets of these surreptitious hunters.
Cheetah's Prey Animals
Cheetahs enjoy their meat, and some of their common prey animals are smaller antelopes and wildebeests, guineafowl, gray duikers, impalas, kudus, gazelles, springboks, ostriches, jackals, hares and even birds. They are especially fond of hoofed creatures. Cheetahs tend to resort to consuming smaller animals -- think warthogs -- when other prey animals simply are not accessible or available. They are capable of taking in a maximum of 30 pounds of sustenance daily, according to the Toronto Zoo. When hunting alongside other cheetahs as teams, they sometimes go after much more substantial animals, like zebras and wildebeests.
These diurnal cats go out to hunt when it's light out, in attempts to stay away from both leopards and lions. Cheetahs use their eyes to track down prey animals, rather than their noses. They closely trail prey animals, sometimes even getting as close as 50 feet away, indicates the Oregon Zoo. Once cheetahs decide that they're ready to go in for the kill, they quickly jolt into the direction of the prey. They then place their sharp chompers into the animals' throats and proceed to strangle. After this takes place, cheetahs usually lug the carcasses over to concealed spots such as bushes or trees. If cheetahs don't quickly devour their prey, they run the risk of tougher animals stealing their meals.
Cheetahs are speedy creatures, and so are their hunting sessions, which usually only last for between 20 seconds and a minute, according to the Defenders of Wildlife organization. Out of all of their pursuits, they usually only accomplish trapping the prey about 50 percent of the time.
Predators of Cheetahs
Cheetahs aren't always the predators -- sometimes they're the prey, too. The youngsters are especially susceptible to the dangers of predation. The species' various predators include human beings, leopards, eagles, spotted hyenas and lions.
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Cheetah
- National Geographic: Cheetah
- Philadelphia Zoo: Cheetah
- Defenders of Wildlife: Cheetah
- African Wildlife Foundation: Cheetah
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Acinonyx jubatus
- Feline Conservation Federation: Cheetah
- San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Cheetah
- ARKive: Acinonyx jubatus
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images