Unusual features/differences from similar
is covered with black spots whereas Leopards have rosettes of
spots. The tail
is long wheras the tail of the
serval is short. There is a tear
stripe from the inner corner of each eye to the corner of the lips which the
leopard does not have. The
stripe does not reach to corner of mouth in serval. The ears are small and rounded
whereas the ears of the serval is large.
Visible Male/Female Differences
Males larger than females
Habitat and Distribution
Prefers open grassland and savanna woodland, extending into arid areas.
Not dependent on water.
Smaller antelope such as impala, steenbok,
takes smaller mammals such as scrub hares and springhares, and ground birds.
Males hunting togethe take larger species such as young wildebeest,
kudu, waterbuck and gemsbok. Lactating females double their food intake.
Litters of 1-6 are born at any time of year after a gestation 90-95 days. Eyes open at 10-12
days. Females give birth and hide their cubs in dense
cover. Cubs are moved frequently, presumably to avoid predators. The mother brings live
prey for cubs to do hunting practice on when they are 4-5 months old. Weaning starts at 8 weeks
and they have permanent teeth at 9 months.
Cubs are Independent at 18 months. Females are sexually mature at 2 years. Cheetah cubs are very
vulnerable and fall prey to spotted hyenas and leopards
and in Namibia cheetah are frequently killed by leopards.
Behavior and Habits
Active during the day but also hunts at night, specifically springhares
which must be hunted at night because they are out and about only at night.
Cheetahs hunt prey using a high-speed chase (measured up to 90km/h) of up to 600m,
the tripping up of the prey and a suffocating bite to the throat,
sometimes not even puncturing the skin. They do not have the stamina for longer
chases. The prey is dragged into cover to avoid the other carnivores and
being spotted by vultures which will attract other predators. Kills are stolen
by lions, spotted
hyenas, brown hyenas and leopards
and cheetahs feed quickly because their kills are often taken from them. The
lose almost 20% of their kills to
spotted hyenas in some areas. Jackals
avoid cheetahs because cheetahs are fast enough to catch and kill them.
rarely scavenge. Confrontations with other predators are avoided because even a minor wound could
farms in Namibia cheetahs are considered a pest because they do not scavenge and
have to kill frequently for fresh meat. Males hold territories of about 100-200 square km which they defend.
They alone have access to the females on their territories. Intruders may be killed
and sometimes eaten. Males scent mark their territories sprayed urine. Females
urine mark more
frequently when they are in heat.
High pitched chirrups are short-range contact and greeting calls. Growl and snarl
in agonistic interactions and purr loudly when content.
Dung and Field sign
Droppings 7cm long and 3 cm thick with tapered ends. Carcasses with most of the bones and skin intact.
Cheetahs are the only feline whose claws mark in the
marks on trees and rocks.