Cheetahs, along with many other big cats, are masters of disguise. Scroll down to watch the full video of this masterclass in camouflage. Test yourself and find out if you would have spotted the cheetah in time to make your escape!
Where Do Cheetahs Live?
A native species is perfectly adapted to thrive in a particular habitat. So, where does this amazing animal live?
Cheetahs are found in Africa and Asia – now their populations are limited to some parts of Africa and Iran. However, in the past they could be seen throughout these continents and even in parts of Europe. It is estimated that they have disappeared from 89 percent of their natural range in Africa. There are less than 10,000 of them living in the wild today.
Because they do not roar, they are not usually included as a ‘big cat’. However, they are a formidable predator and a magnificent creature. Cheetahs are known for their amazing speed. They are the fastest land animal on the planet and can accelerate up to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds. But more importantly, they can keep up that high speed for up to 600 yards. This is primarily achieved by their long stride length – an average of 12 to 16 feet long. At full speed, their stride length can be up to 22 feet long!
Why Are Cheetahs Camouflaged?
There is no doubt about the effectiveness of the cheetah’s camouflage – we can see that for ourselves in this clip. They have coarse, yellow fur with small black spots. These cover almost the whole body. The markings blend in perfectly with the grey hues in longer grass and off-set shadows making them very hard to spot.
This allows the cheetah to wait very close to unsuspecting prey before leaping forward and giving chase. Their heads are small and set high on their heads so they can survey the landscape whilst hiding their body in the grass.
Adult cheetahs have very little to fear from other animals but the cubs are very vulnerable when the mother is away hunting. Their camouflage gives them the best chance of evading predators such as leopards, lions and hyenas. The spots are like a human fingerprint – no two leopards have the same pattern of spots!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Janne Niiranen
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