Wondering to yourself, “What do cheetahs eat?”  Cheetahs love the thrill of the chase and being the fasted land animal usually means they will eat whatever they want.

Cheetahs are carnivores and their favorite food is the gazelle.  They also enjoy antelope, impala, deer and any other grazing medium sized animals.  When these are not available they will feed on rabbits, frogs, birds, lizards, eggs and although they are carnivores, cheetahs are known to eat fruit, primarily watermelon.

How Cheetah Catch Their Prey

Cheetahs are phenomenal hunters and are proven to have the highest success rate of capturing any prey they are going after above any other animal.  They prefer to hunt either early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.  The cheetah relies on its sense of smell and it likes to scope out the area from the top of a hill or a low limb of a tree.

It will chase an animal sometimes several miles, averaging a speed of 50 miles per hour.  They love to stalk their prey as part of a game and will usually creep slowly until it’s within about 50 yards of it before it initiates the chase.  The chase is usually over within about 20 seconds but rarely lasts longer than a minute.

Cheetahs will suffocate their prey by clamping the windpipe of the animal and hold it for sometimes as long as five minutes.  Smaller animals like rabbits are usually killed with a bite to the skull with little or no fight.

These are very clean animals in regards to their eating habits.  Whatever they do not eat, they leave behind and do not return to it later.  They also do not consume skin, bones or entrails from the captured prey.  When they are six weeks old they begin learning to follow during the hunt and at six months old, their mother captures prey and allows the cub to practice killing.  So what do cheetahs eat?  Any medium or small animal that allows them to play their hunting game.

What Makes Them So Fast?

Everything about the cheetah is built for speed.  The animal has not only special paw pads but also non-retractable claws that provide excellent traction.  They have large lungs and nostrils which are ideal for quick air intake and their heart and liver provide a fast physical response.  Their body is very streamlined and they have extremely light bones and the fact that they vertical shoulder blades and quite small collarbones, lengthens their stride.

The eyes of a cheetah are almost haunting and the elongated shape of the retinal fovea gives them a wide-angle, very sharp view of the surroundings.  Also, there are dark marks under each eye that minimize glare from the sun, enhancing its visual accuracy.  Their back legs are extremely powerful and their spine works as a spring to give them a top speed of 73 miles per hour.

Unique Characteristics

At times, the cheetah and the leopard are confused.  The dark tear symbol under their eyes is the easiest way to tell them apart.  Their coat is buff or tan in color with black spots everywhere except for its belly.  A cheetah's tail is distinct with four to six black rings on the end and is usually topped off with a fluffy white tuff.

Newborns appear darker, only because their spots are not distinct yet and quite jumbled together.  A mantle grows on its back that serves many purposes.  It allows them to blend it with shadows and tall dead grass and works as an umbrella when it rains.  They lose the mantle slowly from three months until two years old.  Cubs are blind at birth but by 10 days they can open their eyes, crawl around and begin teething at 3 weeks.  The female will move her cubs every couple days to avoid predators.

Cheetahs are an endangered species and there are less than 12,400 remaining.  They are losing habitat due to development and commercial farming which means less prey for them to survive.  Sometimes out of desperation they will attack farm animals so farmers are shooting them as well as illegal poachers.  It is important that these fascinating animals are preserved now before they are all gone.