Birth & Care of Young

Cubs

Adult females give birth in intervals of 17 to 20 months, but if cubs are lost or killed she may mate and give birth sooner. The gestation period is between 90 to 95 days. Litter size averages 3 to 5 but may vary from 1 to 8 cubs.

At birth, cubs weigh 150 to 400 g (0.33-0.88 lb.). After 4 to 11 days they open their eyes. The nursing period ranges from 3 to 6 months.

Unlike adult male lions, which are known to kill lion cubs that are not their own, male cheetahs have not been seen to kill cheetah cubs they may encounter. It is theorized that since female cheetahs may mate with multiple partners, the males do not know if the cubs are theirs or not.

Care of Young

Cubs are born with a thick grayish mane that appears to provide additional camouflage from predators. This newborn hair is lost about 3 months later. Cubs begin to follow their mother after 6 weeks. At that time the mother will seek a new area to rest and hide almost daily. The mother teaches her young to hunt until they separate from each other, which usually is after a period of 13 to 20 months.

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