|Cheetah gestation periods (pregnancy)
lasts about 93 days and a litter may contain 2 to 8 cubs. At birth cubs
11.8 inches (30 centimeters) long and weigh 0.6 pounds (250-300 grams).
Although they are blind and helpless at birth, they develop rapidly. Their
eyes open at 4 - 10 days and at 3 weeks their teeth erupt. Their fur is
gray in color with a longer mantle of hair along the back. This mane-like
growth, which possibly helps camouflage the cub in grass, begins to disappear
at 3 months but may still be seen even at 2 years of age. Only a few cubs
reach adulthood: lions and hyenas are their greatest threat.
During their first few weeks of life the mother moves her cubs every few
days to avoid these and other predators. However, being a single mom, she
must leave them alone to hunt and consequently mortality is very high, possibly
90%, during this period. Cubs surviving to 5 months of age are able
to outrun almost any other adult carnivore - except, of course,
another cheetah! Juveniles stay with the mother for about a year and following
this period the litter members live together for a time perfecting their
hunting skills. At around 23 months of age the female reaches sexual
maturity and she either leaves her brothers or they are separated from her
by older dominant males.
|See also: Social, Ways
to say 'Cheetah' Smithsonian
Zoo Cheetah Cub Pictures and Info (external site)