What Is Included in a Cheetah's Diet?

included-cheetah-s-diet Credit: S.Musgrove/Moment Open/Getty Images

In the wild a cheetah's diet consists primarily of small, hoofed mammals such as impalas, gazelles and young wildebeest. Cheetahs prey on birds, hares, rabbits, warthogs and antelopes, according to the Conservation Institute. Since water is scarce in the regions where cheetahs live, they have developed the ability to survive for up to four days on a single drink.

The precise diet of a cheetah depends on its geographic location. For example, Animals Time states that cheetahs in the Kalahari in South Africa predominantly catch springbok, while those in the Serengeti have the Thomson’s gazelle as their primary prey. Unlike lions and other big cats, cheetah's prefer to hunt during daylight hours, especially late in the morning or early in the evening.

Despite being known as the fastest land mammals in the world, cheetah's can only maintain their maximum speed, of up to 75 miles per hour, for short bursts of time. Therefore, they rely on their natural camouflage to hide in long grass, and get as close as possible, before attempting to catch their prey. Cheetah's typically trip their quarry and then suffocate the animal with a bite to the throat. According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, cheetah's often lose their freshly-killed prey to larger predators, such as lions and leopards.