Can you move as fast as a car? Probably not, unless the car is going very slowly. But a cheetah can keep up with a car. Cheetahs can run as fast as 58 miles (93 kilometers) per hour. That’s as fast as a car on the freeway! Cheetahs are probably the fastest animals on Earth.
WHAT ARE CHEETAHS?
Cheetahs are big cats, a bit smaller than lions or tigers. Cheetahs have a yellow to pale brown coat covered with black spots. Their coloring helps them hide in bushes and grass. The spots become rings on the cheetah’s long tail. Each cheetah’s tail has a different pattern of rings. Scientists use the tails to tell cheetahs apart.
Cheetahs don’t roar like some big cats. Instead they make purrs, bleats, barks, and chirps. The chirps can sound a lot like a bird!
WHAT MAKES CHEETAHS SO FAST?
Cheetahs are built for speed. Their bodies are muscular and streaml... They have long legs and backs that let them take big steps. They have long tails to help them keep their balance and steer at high speeds. They have large hearts and lungs that help them breathe easily during fast runs. In addition, they have ridges on the bottoms of their paws that provide traction, much like the ridges on snow boots that keep you from slipping.
Although cheetahs can reach their top speeds in two or three seconds, they can’t keep it up for long. Cheetahs can’t sweat to cool themselves down, unlike people. If a cheetah doesn’t catch its prey after it runs about 1,000 feet (300 meters)—the length of three soccer fields—it has to give up. Otherwise, its body could get so hot that the cheetah might die.