Photo: An African cheetah leaping through the air

Unlike most African predators, cheetahs hunt during the daytime. When they spot prey, they can accelerate faster than most cars: from 0 to 60 miles (96 kilometers) an hour in only three seconds.

Photograph by Chris Johns

Big Cats Facts

  • The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal. It can run at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour (113 kilometers an hour).
  • An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles (eight kilometers) away.
  • Long, muscular hind legs enable snow leopards to leap seven times their own body length in a single bound.
  • A tiger's stripes are like fingerprints—no two animals have the same pattern.
  • The strongest climber among the big cats, a leopard can carry prey twice its weight up a tree.
  • The Amur leopard is one of the most endangered animals in the world.
  • In one stride, a cheetah can cover 23 to 26 feet (7 to 8 meters).
  • The name "jaguar" comes from a Native American word meaning "he who kills with one leap."
  • In the wild, lions live for an average of 12 years and up to 16 years. They live up to 25 years in captivity.
  • The mountain lion and the cheetah share an ancestor.
  • Cheetahs do not roar, as the other big cats do. Instead, they purr.
  • Tigers are excellent swimmers and do not avoid water.
  • A female Amur leopard gives birth to one to four cubs in each litter.
  • Fossil records from two million years ago show evidence of jaguars.
  • Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Every female within the pride is usually related.
  • The leopard is the most widespread of all big cats.
  • Mountain lions are strong jumpers, thanks to muscular hind legs that are longer than their front legs.
  • Tigers have been hunted for their skin, bones, and other body parts, used in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Unlike other cats, lions have a tuft of hair at the end of their tails.
  • After humans, mountain lions have the largest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

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