Behavior and Feeding

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.

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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.

Photo retrieved from

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 "endangered" section.

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