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Big Cats Facts

Learn More About These Fierce Felines

Photo: Two Bengal tigers play-fight

Bengal Tigers (View larger version)

Photograph by Michael Nichols

  • The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal. It can run at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour (113 kilometers an hour).

  • Cheetahs do not roar, as the other big cats do. Instead, they purr.

  • In one stride, a cheetah can cover 23 to 26 feet.

  • In the wild, lions live for an average of 12 years and up to 16 years. They live up to 25 years in captivity.

  • An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles away.

  • Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Every female within the pride is usually related.

  • Unlike other cats, lions have a tuft of hair at the end of their tails.

  • A tiger's stripes are like fingerprints—no two animals have the same pattern.

  • Tigers are excellent swimmers and do not avoid water.

  • Tigers have been hunted for their skin, bones, and other body parts, used in traditional Chinese medicine.

  • Mountain lions are strong jumpers, thanks to muscular hind legs that are longer than their front legs.

  • After humans, mountain lions have the largest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

  • The mountain lion and the cheetah share an ancestor.

  • The name "jaguar" comes from a Native American word meaning "he who kills with one leap."

  • Fossil records from two million years ago show evidence of jaguars.

  • The leopard is the most widespread of all big cats.

  • The strongest climber among the big cats, a leopard can carry prey twice its weight up a tree.

  • Long, muscular hind legs enable snow leopards to leap seven times their own body length in a single bound.

  • The Amur leopard is one of the most endangered animals in the world.

shirley evans
shirley evans

I had the privilege of seeing and photographing Malaika (Angel), a cheetah mother of 5 cubs, this past October on the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. It was amazing to see her hunt and take care of her cubs. It is estimated that only 7,000 are left in the wild.

siamak sadjedi
siamak sadjedi

I love cats, specially the super cats, and i admire the effort put in by national geographic to save these magnificent species.

Rhea Mehra
Rhea Mehra

this site has made me aware of the wide diversity of flora and fauna ! thankyou very much :) i am greatly impressed by the facts provided and the knowledge you share with the world :) 

Marta Busso
Marta Busso

riprendiamoci la vita, torniamo alla natura:)

Steven Quinn
Steven Quinn

Cool facts that the 7th grade at Milford loved especially Kimmie

Criss Holbrook
Criss Holbrook

@Niloofar Manghebati  I would guess that a cheetah would be capable of killing a human but it is not likely that a cheetah would find itself in the position to do so.  They are timid, they know they are prey for all the other big cats in the area, they are - for lack of a better phrase - low cat on the totem pole.  It is more likely that a cheetah would remove itself from a human's sight before the human even knew the cat was there.