The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is a rare critically endangered subspecies of the cheetah found primarily in Iran. It is an atypical member of the cat family (Felidae) that hunts by speed rather than by stealth or pack tactics. It lives in a vast fragmented desert and although recently extinct in India it is also known as the Indian cheetah. It is the fastest of all land animals and can reach speeds of up to 70 mph (112 km/h). The cheetah is well known for its amazing acceleration.
The cheetah has a slender slim body and broad chest and a highly set abdomen, which resembles a hound. It has a small, domed head with a short nose and small ears. The eyes are set high up on the skull. A pair of distinct black “tear marks” runs from the corners of the eyes, down the sides of the nose to the mouth. This possibly keeps the sun out of their eyes, which benefits hunting.
The cheetah’s back coat is light yellow to yellowish-amber and the underbody-coat is creamy white. They have full circular black spots with relatively short coarse fur. In adults, the very tip of the tail has two rings instead of spots, with the last ring the widest. Unlike other cats, adult cheetahs have dull, semi-retractable claws. Until about the first six months of their lives, the young are able to retract their claws. They can weigh from 75 to 119 lb (34 to 54 kg), but the male is slightly larger than the female.
PHOTO CREDIT: Copyright Â© 2003-2004 Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS)