The humble cheetah has earned its reputation as the world’s fastest land animal. This large cat is capable of accelerating to speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds, which out-paces even some of the fastest supercars on the market today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cheetahs are also particularly adept hunters, and their sheer speed certainly helps with that.
In addition to being fast sprinters, cheetahs are equipped with a number of tools that make them fearsome predators. Unlike other cats, their claws don’t retract, and this is thought to give the cats significant traction while running at such high speeds. Cheetahs also sport a dewclaw, which resides higher up on the animal’s paw. This specialized claw helps to trip up the animal’s prey, enabling it catch and eat more effectively.
Cheetahs can be distinguished from other similar-looking large cats by the black tear lines that appear on their faces. These tear lines are believed to work to the animal’s advantage, preventing glare from oncoming sunlight and enabling long-distant vision of up to five kilometers. Thanks to this especially good eyesight, cheetahs can often see their prey before ever getting noticed.
While fully-grown adult cheetahs are a force to be reckoned with, the opposite can be said about young cubs. Cheetah cubs are particularly vulnerable to predation, and many perish within three months of being born. Some scientists believe that the furry mantle on cubs’ necks helps them to camouflage with the grass, therefore helping them dodge predation.