Quick—what’s a fact you know about cheetahs? Chances are, the first thing that came to your mind was their speed. It’s a reputation they’ve earned—they’re the fastest land animals, reaching up to 70 miles per hour. But did you know that they can go from standing still to running at 45 miles per hour in two seconds? That’s faster than most race cars can accelerate!
Cheetahs’ long legs and flexible spines help them move at high speeds, and their muscular tails help them balance.
Why do cheetahs need to be so fast? Rather than stealthily sneaking up on their prey in close quarters and relying on brute strength, cheetahs use their speed to hunt. They live on open, grassy savannahs, where they spot their favorite prey, fast-moving animals like gazelles, from a distance. When food is scarce, though, cheetahs eat small animals and even birds’ eggs and fruit!
Photo via Flickrfavorites.