Cheetahs are superbly adapted for speed. They have extremely flexible spines that allow them to stretch their body in order to take long strides. Cheetahs have a long tail that serves as a balance when running, allowing them to change direction efficiently when moving at top speed. Cheetahs are unique among cats in that they are the only species that lacks fully-retractable claws. Since the claws of cheetahs remain extended at all times, they enjoy better traction while running.
Cheetahs have golden to cream colored coats with black spots. They have distinct tear stripes that run from inner and outer corners of their eyes down their muzzle. The underside of their face, neck, and belly is of a lighter golden color than the fur on their back and flanks. The cheetah's tail is dappled with black spots at its base and these spots gradually merge towards the end of its tail to become black rings.
- Mass: up to 72 kg
- Body Length: 1.5 m
- Tail Length: 61-76 cm
- Shoulder Height: 70-85 cm
- Diet: mainly small to medium sized antelope such as impala, duiker, hartebeest, dik-dik, springbok, kudu
- Breeding Season: throughout the year
- Sexual Maturity: 456 days
- Gestation: about 95 days
- Number of Offspring: 1-8
- Time to Weaning: 120-150 days
- Predators: lions, Nile crocodiles, spotted hyaena, leopards
- Average Lifespan: 12-14 years (wild)
- Habitat: semi-deserts and grasslands
- Geographical Range: Africa and West Africa