How Do Cheetahs Take Care of Their Young?

Ken/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Cheetahs are very good mothers, caring for their young until the cubs reach maturity, usually between ages 2 and 3. Cheetahs are ordinarily solitary animals, preferring to venture about on their own unless caring for cubs.

Cheetahs generally give birth to as many as eight cubs, with the mother selecting a secluded spot for birthing. Cubs will not open their eyes for a couple weeks and are virtually helpless. The mother leaves her cubs hidden as she hunts until they are old enough to follow along — usually by the age of 6 weeks.

Cheetah cubs suckle their mother for up to 3 months but will begin to eat some meat when they are as young as 3 weeks. According to the San Diego Zoo, cheetahs are a very vocal species, and they use a chirping sound to call to their cubs. This sound is called a chirp call, and it is a lot like a dog’s bark. Mother cheetahs also use other noises, such as coughs, bleats, moans, hisses, snarls, growls and purrs, to communicate with their cubs and other cheetahs.

At around 6 months of age, the cheetah teaches her cubs techniques to avoid predators and how to hunt. Still, researchers say that up to 70 percent of all cheetah cubs fall prey to hyenas and lions.