Let’s start with a very bold statement: The Cheetah is considered the fastest land animal.
We’re going to talk about this very fast animal because Marisa, of Mrs. Long’s third grade class suggested it, and I thought the idea was brilliant for a couple of reasons;
They are endangered, and you know that my passion is to bring attention to endangered animals,
They were always one of my favorite animals (I guess they still are!).
So let’s go back to that very bold statement above and look at it very carefully. First, let's discover the most important word in the sentence; LAND. If we consider ALL animals (land, sea and air), the fastest animal is actually a bird; the Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine Falcon has been clocked at speeds of over 200 miles an hour, but this speed is in a hunting dive, not straight flying.
It’s interesting to note that the speed of the Cheetah is calculated when they are sprinting during the hunt. So, the two fastest animals on the planet use their speed for hunting.
OK, so now we know what the fastest animal in the world is when we consider ALL animals; land, sea and air. Hands down it’s the Peregrine Falcon. Let’s go back to discuss the fastest LAND animal. When we consider what animal is fastest on land we have to discuss sustainability. Sustainability means that the animal can keep up that speed for a long period of time. The animal that can sustain the highest speed for the longest period of time is the racehorse.
A racehorse can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, and it can sustain that speed for miles. A Cheetah, on the other hand can reach 70 miles per hour, but they can only do this for short bursts; they cannot sustain that speed.
Mother Nature is very interesting. She gave the horse the ability to sustain a high speed for a longer period of time because it is running away from predators (a predator is a carnivorous animal – an animal which eats meat). The Cheetah, on the other hand, has qualities that enable it to reach tremendous speeds because it is chasing its meal. Both animals have been given the chance to either escape from the predator, or overcome its prey (prey is an animal which is hunted by other animals). To summarize; the Cheetah has the ability to run short bursts at high speed, but not long distances like the racehorse. The Cheetah has certain physical characteristics that enables it to run fast. The horse and other prey, have physical characteristics that enable it to sustain their speed. The two below videos will explain this further.
One video will explain the speed and agility of the Cheetah. The other will explain how the Cheetah’s prey can outrun him. You might think that nothing can outrun a Cheetah, but as I said above, Mother Nature works in strange ways. Nature is wondrous, it has given every creature certain abilities to help it survive.
If you cannot see the video, please go to my web site:
There are four subspecies of Cheetah living on the savannahs of Africa and according to the IUCN*, they are endangered (considered vulnerable). However, there is an Asiatic Cheetah, which is critically endangered and is only found in parts of Iran.
· Here are some other very interesting facts about the Cheetah.
· 1. The name Cheetah comes from the Hindi word chita meaning ‘spotted’ or ‘sprinkled.’
· 2. The Cheetah is covered in black spots on the upper parts only. The tail has a series of black rings.
· 3. Cheetahs have very distinctive ‘tear’ lines that run down from the eyes.
· 4. The adult Cheetah weighs 49 to 159 pounds. They are 26 to 37 inches tall at the shoulder.
· 5. The Cheetah can accelerate to 60 mph in just three seconds.
· 6. Cheetahs can purr, but they are the only big cats that cannot roar.
There is so much more to learn about Cheetahs. Here are a few web sights that will offer more information.
Animal Fact Guide
*IUCN = The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
As always, my sincere thanks to ARKive for their magnificent pictures and information. I also want to thank Marisa in Mrs. Long’s third grade class. It was so nice of you to suggest the Cheetah. I loved writing this blog for everyone!
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