For my vertebrate animal I chose the Cheetah. The Cheetah
or Acinonyx Jubatus is an endangered species. They were
once found throughout Africa and Asia, but are now only
scattered throughout Eastern Africa and a small region of
Southwestern Africa. Cheetahs are threatened by increasing
loss of habitat, decline in prey, and increased poaching for
fur trade. The Cheetah has a tawny coarse coat with round
black spots or “tear stripes” from the corner of the eyes
down to the sides of the nose. They are slender and long
legged, and their claws are non-retractable. They also have
small heads with high set eyes and small ears. Cheetahs
average 44 to 53 inches in length, with an additional tail
length of 26 to 33 inches. The Cheetah’s average weight is
86 to 143 pounds. Male Cheetahs are slightly larger than
females. The Cheetahs flexible spine, oversized liver,
enlarged heart, slender muscular body, and unique claws
make it the swiftest hunter in Africa, and the fastest animal
on land. A Cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. In
the grassy plains and dense bush females live alone, except
when raising cubs. Males live alone or with a small group of
brothers from the same litter. Cheetahs hunt in late morning
and early evening. They stalk their prey first, until they are
within 40 to 90 feet before the chase begins. Chases last
from twenty seconds to one minute, and only about half are
successful. If the Cheetah does catch its prey it suffocates it
by biting it underneath the throat. Then the carcass is
dragged of to a safe place to be eaten. Cheetahs prey on
animals such as Gazelles, Wildebeest calves, impala, and
other hoofed animals weighing up to 88 pounds. A Cheetahs
sexual maturity is reached in about 20 to 23 months. Mating
can occur any time of year. Gestation lasts 91 to 95 days.
Litter size can be 1 to 8 cubs, but the average is 3. Cubs are
smokey gray in color with long wooly hair running along their
backs. Cubs are moved around from one hiding place to
another every few days so they are not found by other
animals. One third of cubs survive to adulthood. Cubs stay
with their mother for approximately one year. Cheetahs live
up to 12 years in captivity, and it is unknown how long they
survive in the wild.

Category: Science