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Jessi and Squeaks love to race each other! They can both run pretty fast, but there's one animal they'd never be able to beat: the cheetah! Join us to learn all about this super speedy cat!

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SOURCES:
http://www.conservationinstitute.org/10-fastest-animals-on-earth/
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/cheetah/#ww-wild-cats-cheetahs.jpg
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/cheetahs-vs-wildebeest-predation
http://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/cheetah
Squeaks and I love to race each other.

We can both move pretty quickly, so sometimes I win, and sometimes Squeaks wins. [Squeaks squeaks] You're right, Squeaks! You did win the last race, Squeaks!

You were really fast. But there’s another animal that’s faster than both of us: the cheetah. Cheetahs are big cats that live in Africa and Asia.

But even though they might look like huge kitties, these cats aren’t like house cats at all. They’re wild animals, and they have an amazing super skill: they’re incredible runners! Cheetahs can run about 100 kilometers an hour, or 60 miles an hour.

That’s about as fast as a car driving on the highway! They’re so fast that they’re the fastest runners on Earth — way faster than the fastest people can run. And there’s another good reason they can run so fast!

Cheetahs are predators, meaning that they hunt other animals for food. Their quick feet help them catch their next meal. Can you imagine having to run at top speed to catch your dinner?

You’d probably get tired pretty quickly. The same thing happens to cheetahs. It’s exhausting for them to run at full speed for more than a minute or so, so they’ll only chase other animals in short bursts of speed.

Which means that to have the best chance of getting their food, cheetahs use other skills to get as close as they can to the animals they’re hunting before they start chasing them. One thing that helps is that cheetahs are covered in spots, which help them to camouflage, or blend in, with the grass around them. That camouflage can get cheetahs really close to an animal before they leap out to get it.

And cheetahs have another special talent: while they’re running, they’re really good at changing directions quickly to stay close to the animals they’re chasing. They even have a special tail that helps them to steer as they run, turning in different directions to keep them from slipping and falling. And you know what else helps cheetahs sometimes, especially when they want to take down a really big animal, like a wildebeest?

Teamwork! One cheetah will start chasing the wildebeest, and then another will come in from the other side while the wildebeest isn’t looking. With two cheetahs working together, they can get a huge meal!

That’s some impressive teamwork, isn’t it, Squeaks? [Squeaks squeaks] So, running really fast can be a big help for cheetahs. But it does mean that they have some different needs than other predators. Cheetahs each have their own hunting grounds where they find their food, so they aren’t all trying to chase the same animals.

Since cheetahs run so far, so fast when they’re chasing their prey, they each need a huge hunting ground to avoid crowding the other cheetahs while they’re hunting. If they had only a small space, a cheetah chasing a gazelle might run straight through the homes of a bunch of other cheetahs. Speaking of running fast, Squeaks, are you ready for our next race? [Squeaks squeaks] OK, let’s head outside!

Maybe the lessons from those cheetahs will help us go faster. Do you have any questions about cheetahs, or any other animal? How quickly can you run?

Ask a grown-up to help you leave a comment below, or send us an email to kids@scishow.com. We’ll see you next time, here at the fort.