Whoosh! If you are seeing spots speeding by, you might just be looking at a cheetah! The fastest land animalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs. in the world, cheetahs are built to run very fast for fairly short distances, allowing them to catch preyNoun: An animal that is hunted as food by another animal. Verb: To attempt to take an animal for food. that other big cats can’t get. Cheetahs have a flexible spineA stiff, sharp projection on an animal; another word for quill., which allows their front legs to stretch far forward on each stride. They have long legs, and their long tails act like rudders to help with balance.
While running, cheetahs cover 20 to 22 feet (6 to 6.7 meters) in one stride, about the same distance as a racehorse. But cheetahs are so much faster—the fastest racehorse runs 43 miles per hour (69 kilometers per hour), while cheetahs can run at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour (112 kilometers per hour). Cheetahs are off the ground more than half of their running time! Their clawsThe fingernails of an animal, such as a bear or cat. They help to grab prey. In birds, they're called talons. are hard and sharp like cleats, giving them great traction when they run.
But what if their dinner runs off suddenly in a different direction? The cheetah is ready for that, too! They are the only cats that, while sprinting, can turn in midair to follow their preyNoun: An animal that is hunted as food by another animal. Verb: To attempt to take an animal for food..
When they are hunting, cheetahs are probably quiet so they can sneak up on preyNoun: An animal that is hunted as food by another animal. Verb: To attempt to take an animal for food.. But when it's not mealtime, these cats have plenty to say. Cheetahs are very vocal: they make a birdAn animal that has wings and is covered with feathers. Birds have a backbone, are warm-blooded, produce young from eggs, and walk on their two legs. Most can fly.-like sound called a “chirrup” when they’re excited. Mothers use the same sound to call their cubs. They also purr, growl, snarl, hiss, cough, moan, and bleat, but cheetahs cannot roar like lions or tigers do. It doesn't sound like they need to, does it?