Raising a Family
Male and female cheetahs
will come together for brief mating periods of 1-3 days. A male and a
female often have courtship chases or mock fights before breeding.
Often times males will have to fight other males for the right to be
with the female. Males will not help raise the cubs.
After a 90-95 day
gestation period, a litter of cubs, usually four or five is born. The
mother will give birth and set up a home in an area with shrubbery or
trees. Cubs are blind and helpless at birth. They will stay in the den
for eight weeks. After this period they will shadow their mother during
hunts and even eat meat for the first time.
When a mother goes off
hunting the cubs will wait in dense brush until the mother calls them.
At the age of six months cubs will practice killing their prey. A
mother will bring back a small wounded or almost dead animal and the
cubs use the suffocating technique to finish off the prey. Cubs will
practice hunting on each other through playful behavior, and often will
chase unrealistic prey such as giraffes. Young usually don't become
proficient hunters until they are off on their own and are about 24
months of age. They will leave their mother anywhere from 13 months old
to 20 months old. If a young cub loses its family and is lucky enough
to survive it will join another family.
Many Cheetahs do not
reach sexual maturity. In Tanzania's Serengeti National Park about
90% of all cubs die before the three months of age. About 50% fall
victim to lions, hyenas or other predators. The other 40% get
diseases because of lack of genetic diversity and immune response.
Females reach sexual maturity at about two years of age. Males
reach this point near the three year mark. Cheetahs have been
known to live up to 12 years in the wild, although most don't because
they are preyed upon or get sick. Some have been able to live up
to 16 years in zoos. The lack of reproductive success has led to
the decline of the cheetah population which I will describe under my
Send comments about this page to