Fastest animal on land: the cheetah

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Skills



The king of speed – Catch me if you can

The cheetah is an out and out sprinter, built for speed with a flexible body and large stride. It can accelerate from 0-40mph in three strides, get to 60mph quicker than most Ferraris and reach a full speed of close to 70mph.  Below we take a closer look at what exactly makes the cheetah - the king of speed.


On the look out – Daytime hunter

Unlike most big cats, cheetahs hunt during the day and climb termite mounds to spot potential prey such as gazelle or antelope.  Remarkably, as shown in the BBC’s TV series LIFE, cheetahs have now been witnessed hunting in pairs in order to bring down bigger prey such as ostriches.


Cheetah’s eyesight – Vision express

The cheetah’s eye’s retinal fovea is of an elongated shape, giving the cheetah a super sharp, wide-angle view of its surroundings. This allows them to chase and turn with near perfect accuracy. The dark tear marks beneath each eye may also enhance its visual acuity by minimizing the sun’s glare.


Cheetah’s body – Built for speed

A long, fluid, greyhound-like body and  a small head are streamlined over light bones. Small collarbones, vertical shoulder blades and long legs help lengthen the stride. The tail acts as a rudder for quick turning while the spine works as a spring for the powerful back legs to give the cheetah added reach for each step.

Cheetah’s claws – First class grip

Cheetah claws are actually semi-retractable and aid acceleration rather like running spikes. The paws are less rounded and harder than other cats and help the cheetah make quick turns.



Cheetah’s engine – Explosive power

Flared nostrils, huge lungs and heart help to keep oxygen flowing to a cheetah’s muscles during a sprint. However the cheetah’s respiratory rate climbs still from 60 to 150 breaths per minute during a high-speed chase. Such effort cannot be sustained for long and a cheetah can run only for 20-30 seconds before it is exhausted.  


Now see who’s the fastest where the cheetah is put through his paces against Usain Bolt, a porsche, a racehorse, a greyhound and a drag car!



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