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What Are Baby Cheetahs Called? What Do They Look Like?

From the boundless enthusiasm of puppies to the delightful prance of foals, baby animals have a unique charm that captivates our hearts. They not only mesmerize us with their innocence and playfulness but also introduce us to a world full of fascinating terminologies. As we explore this world, let’s focus on one of the most enigmatic and swift creatures of the wild – the cheetah.

What Are Baby Cheetahs Called?

When a cheetah gives birth, the newborns are referred to as “cubs“. This terminology is not unique to cheetahs, as many of the big cats share this naming convention. For instance, the offspring of lions are also called lion cubs, and similarly, tiger offspring are known as tiger cubs.

The term “cub” evokes a sense of youth, vulnerability, and curiosity. In the case of the cheetah, these cubs, with their downy fur and developing spots, embark on a journey to become the fastest land animals, relying heavily on lessons from their environment and their mothers.

What Does a Baby Cheetah Look Like?

Upon their birth, baby cheetahs boast a unique appearance that sets them apart from many other big cat cubs. Their bodies are covered in a fine layer of downy fur, which gives them a soft and fluffy appearance.

One of the most distinct features of a baby cheetah is the mantle — a line of long, bluish-grey hair running down their back, extending from the base of their neck to the start of their tail. This Mohawk-like feature not only makes them incredibly adorable but also serves a functional purpose.

The mantle helps camouflage the cubs in tall grass, offering them some protection from potential predators. Additionally, it may even mimic the appearance of a honey badger, a fierce animal that many predators avoid.

When you look at their faces, baby cheetahs have pronounced tear marks, running from the inner corners of their eyes down the sides of their nose to the edges of their mouth. These marks are believed to help focus better on prey and minimize the sun’s glare.

Cheetah cub portrait

10 Fun Facts About Cheetah Cubs

  1. Rapid Growth: Cheetah cubs grow quickly. By six months, they start learning hunting techniques and by eight months, they can make short chases.
  2. Vocal Creatures: Baby cheetahs are quite vocal. They produce chirping sounds, especially when trying to locate their mother. This chirping is reminiscent of bird calls.
  3. Playtime: Much like domestic kittens, cheetah cubs love to play. This playtime isn’t just for fun; it helps them develop the skills they’ll need as hunters.
  4. Predator Evasion: Even at a young age, cheetah cubs are adept at hiding. When the mother goes hunting, she’ll hide her cubs in tall grass, and they instinctively know to stay silent and still.
  5. Mortality Rate: Unfortunately, cheetah cubs have a high mortality rate, with up to 70% not reaching adulthood. The first few weeks are especially critical, during which they’re most vulnerable to predators.
  6. Diet Transition: Cheetah cubs start off with their mother’s milk. However, around 3 weeks old, they begin to transition to meat, initially fed to them by their mother in the form of regurgitated food.
  7. Eyes Closed: When they’re born, cheetah cubs’ eyes are closed. They only begin to open them after about 10 days.
  8. Teething Pains: Much like human babies, cheetah cubs go through teething. They start getting their milk teeth around three weeks of age.
  9. Unique Spots: Although born with a more uniform fur coat, as the cubs grow, their individual spot patterns begin to emerge. These patterns are as unique as human fingerprints!
  10. Social Lessons: From around six weeks of age, cheetah cubs start venturing out of their den and observing their mother. It’s during this time that they start learning essential social behaviors and hunting strategies from her.
Face of a cheetah cub

Final Thoughts

The realm of cheetah cubs, with their unique appearances, playful antics, and rapid growth, is truly fascinating. As they emerge from the shadows with mohawk-like mantles and begin to showcase their individual spotted patterns, they never fail to captivate our hearts. However, beneath their undeniable charm lies a story of vulnerability.

The high mortality rates and the constant threats they face in their early weeks and months of life underscore the importance of conservation efforts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cheetah cubs have a mantle?

The mantle, a line of long hair running down a cub’s back, helps camouflage them in tall grass, protecting them from predators. It might also mimic the appearance of a honey badger, deterring potential threats.

When do cheetah cubs start running?

By six months of age, cheetah cubs begin practicing their hunting techniques and can engage in short chases.

How long do cubs stay with their mother?

Cheetah cubs typically stay with their mother until they’re about 18 months old. During this period, they learn vital survival and hunting skills.

Are cheetah cubs born with spots?

While they have a more uniform fur coat at birth, individual spot patterns begin to emerge as they grow.

How do cheetah mothers protect their cubs?

Cheetah mothers are fiercely protective. They’ll frequently relocate their den to keep the location a secret from predators. When she goes hunting, the mother hides her cubs in tall grass, and they instinctively remain silent and still.

At what age do cheetah cubs become independent?

After 18 months, most cubs start their independent journey, though brothers from the same litter might form coalitions and stick together for longer.

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