What Speed does a Cheetah Run?

A question I get often, how fast can a cheetah run?

The cheetah is built for speed, long lean body, small head, long legs. But they are sprinters and not long distance runners such as Painted dogs

A full grown adult cheetah running at full speed, can reach up to 115km per hour (over 70mph). They can do this for only about 400 meters, then are too exhausted to carry on and have to rest, even if they have caught their prey.

One stride is eight meters (26 feet). They can cover 25 meters ( 82 feet) in 1 SECOND!!!  This actually makes them fly over the ground in the chase. This means they cover 100 meters in less than 5 seconds. Faster than any man or animal.

They can accelerate faster than any sports car, 0 – 100kph in 2.5 seconds. A golden blur of pure muscle and co-ordination.

The tail is very important at high speeds as it is used as a rudder. Not round but oval and heavy and used for balance. It can move 20 times per second, small movements to maintain balance when turning.

The spine is long and supple bending the hind legs inwards, outside and overlapping the front legs to propel them forward.

The heart is bigger for more oxygen hence more energy

The nostrils are also bigger for more air intake, again allowing more oxygen into the blood.

Their claws are permanently out, like a dog. These claws enable the cheetah a better grip, just as a sprinter uses spiked running shoes. They have one very sharp claw, the dew claw which is used when catching their prey. This claw is further up the leg and is always sharp and bent like a hook for grabbing

Next time you are in a car, check your speedometer at 100kph (70mph). That is a cheetah running speed, almost into top gear.

Cheetah at full speed
Low flying



One thing that is needed when working with animals is PATIENCE. Normally I am not a patient person but when it comes to working with Cheetahs I find that they are not the brightest of animals but with patience they will do what you want them to.

Such things as the routine feeding, cleaning their camps, the early morning check, something the cheetahs get used to. One of my favorite times is the early morning check up, walking quietly around all the enclosures, going in to see that the cheetahs are okay. This is a morning routine for the cheetahs as well, when they see me it is normally a stare as they lie in their overnight bushbed as if saying, “when’s lunch?” I, like most animal people talk to my cats, they don’t reply much but by being able to walk around or past them shows a trust in the animal.

My favorite picture is the one above. When we have cubs they, plus their mother, get fed twice a day, A routine everyone soon gets used to. Some mothers are greedy so I have to put 2 dishes in, one for her and the other for the cubs. Over time this regular pattern leads to a trust from the mother to let me put the dish closer to the cubs, they get used to the routine then something like the above picture happens.

I was patiently waiting for them all to finish, just sitting inside their enclosure when one of the cubs walked up to me. I put out my hand and the cub reached out to touch me. It was an amazing feeling, especially as the mother was watching the whole thing. Acceptance and trust.