“Spot” light on Cheetahs

Cheetahs, Creature Feature, Uncategorized

There are a couple of large cat species that are spotted, including cheetahs, leopards and jaguars. While each species has a unique kind of spot, many people find it difficult to tell the difference at a glance.

A young cheetah at Wildlife Safari

A young cheetah at Wildlife Safari

Cheetahs, however, have a unique identifying mark that can be used to tell the difference with just a quick look. Cheetahs are the only spotted cat that hunt in the day time, an adaptation to avoid direct competition with bigger, stronger predators. The give-away marking that shows this is the black tear line that runs down on either side of a cheetah’s face. This black mark stops the sunlight from reflecting into their eyes – just like the eye black that athletes wear.

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Cheetah’s spots are referred to as “true” markings – they are marked on their skin as well, not just their fur. As well as the spots themselves, there are lots of other differences between the spotted cat species, including size, anatomy and behavior, but the tear marks are a good, quick way to distinguish.

So the next time you see a spotted face peeking from a zoo enclosure (or even the wild!), you’ll know if it’s a cheetah that’s watching you!

Mohawk

 

Beauty more than fur deep…

Uncategorized

You’re probably familiar with the characteristic spots on cheetahs, and stripes on tigers, but not many people have had the chance to look at them closely. These two species both have what we call “true” markings, where their spots or stripes go all the way down to the skin! This means that it is not just the fur that has these bold patterns, its their skin as well.

Riya the Sumatran tiger

Riya the Sumatran tiger

These patterns help them to camouflage and hide in their surroundings, helping them to sneak up on their prey unseen.


While they may seem pretty conspicuous up close, when they are in amongst grass or bushes in dappled sunlight they are extremely difficult to spot.