Cheetah, Africa and Middle East, up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long The cheetah is the smallest of the big cats. It has a lean body, long legs and spotted markings that help it blend into the tall, dry grasses of its savanna habitat in Africa and the scrublands of the Middle East. It is the fastest land animal on Earth, capable of reaching speeds of more than 100 km/h (60 mph). Its hard paws and semi-retractable claws give it grip for running and making sharp turns at top speed.
Fastest land animal
Over short bursts, the cheetah can run faster than any other animal in the world. With its long legs and lean, muscular body, it is perfectly built for speed. Its bones are light, and it has a super-long stride. Its spine is like a spring for its powerful back legs, and its tail helps it to balance and turn quickly at speed. All this means that it can hit a top speed of 105 km/h (65 mph). It can accelerate from a standing start to that speed in only three seconds.
The cheetah can accelerate from a standing start to its top speed of 105 km/h (65 mph) in three seconds.
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