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What Do Cheetahs Eat?

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Cheetahs are carnivorous, and their favorite meal is usually Thomson’s gazelles. There are other sorts of game available for cheetahs depending on where they are in their range. Meat is the main staple of their diet, and they can gorge themselves easily. They usually go a couple of days without eating unless the animal is female and either pregnant or has kits. Then the kill rate is one deer per day. They are the quickest animals on earth and can kill quickly by suffocation, by biting down on the spine and windpipe of the prey. Many prey animals are actually bigger than the cat itself.

A cheetah chasing his prey, a Thomson's gazelleA cheetah chasing a Thomson’s gazelle. Photo by Austin Thomas.

Gazelle, deer and impala

Cheetah diets include gazelle, deer and impala as a big part of the diet. Mainly they hunt Thompson’s gazelle, impala, springbok and Grant’s gazelle. This diet will vary depending on the territory in which the cheetah has its home range. Sometimes it can choose larger animals.

Larger mammals

The cheetah can also take on young of larger animals such as zebras, wildebeests and the warthog. On occasion they can also take down an adult of these species. This usually can happen if the cheetah hunts in a group. This way, every individual in the cheetah group will eat.

Hares and guinea fowl

At times, the cheetah will also go after hares and guinea fowl at the same time. This makes for a tasty morsel for the cheetah. Both are favored prey at times and will also be depending on what the range is for the cheetah in question.

Hunting practices

Cheetahs are mainly hunters that are diurnal. This is much unlike the majority of wild cats who hunt mainly at night. A cheetah will hunt either in late evening or early morning. Hunting is done by vision instead of smell. The diet will be depending on where the cheetah has its home range. Prey is stalked until 98 feet then pursued for a minute. The success rate for hunting is usually 50 percent of the prey it stalks. So the diet of a cheetah is mainly meat from deer, hare or larger beasts.

More on cheetah: Facts about cheetahs.