The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Over short distances, it can sprint up to 70 miles per hour. Built for speed, it has long, slim, muscular legs, a small, rounded head set on a long neck, a flexible spine, a deep chest, special pads on its feet for traction and a long tail for balance. It is also the only cat that cannot retract its claws, an adaptation to help maintain traction like a soccer player’s cleats. Distinctive black "tear tracks" running from the inside corner of each eye to the mouth may serve as an anti-glare mechanism for daytime hunting.
Cheetahs are found in open and partially open savannas. The cheetah is basically a solitary animal. At times, a male will accompany a female for a short while after mating, but most often the female is alone or with her cubs. Cheetah mothers spend a long time teaching their young how to hunt. Small, live antelopes are brought back to the cubs so they can learn to chase and catch them.
Cheetahs do not roar like lions but they purr, hiss, whine and growl. They also make a variety of contact calls - the most common is a birdlike chirping sound.