Readers’ wildlife photos

May 18, 2012 • 1:18 pm

Let’s end a hard week with a soft kitteh. Reader Bob Johnson sends pictures of some adorable cheetah cubs he took in the wild in Kenya (August 2008 in Masai Mara). He adds that we should note the claws (cheetahs are the only cats whose claws are nonretractable).  Click to enlarge, which you should do:

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

      1. Raw, not chopped. Just bind them down, expose a limb, maybe tenderise the skin a little, then let teh kittehs nom.
        They stay fresh (well, edible) for longer that way. Haven’t you read your Voltaire?

  1. Baby cheetahs have a ruff of grey fur all down the back and darker, almost spotless flanks, compared to older cubs. It has been suggested that this makes them look enough like grumpy, dangerous honey badgers rather than helpless, delicious kitteh-flavoured snacks to any passing predator (jackal or raptor). Don’t know if this is a supported idea or an example of just-so story telling.

    1. I don’t know either, but it makes sense of an otherwise very unusual feature of cheetahs.

      Should be testable with exposure of a range of predators to models, like the work that’s been done on coral snake mimicry.

      Honey badger is nasty.

  2. I’m curious about the sequence of evolutionary events leading to the cheetah being the only cat without retractable claws, combined with a comparatively weak set of teeth/fangs compared to other big cats, so I’ve read.

    1. All to do with their hunting strategy. They’re built for speed. Lightweight head and body, long legs and a long tail for balance. Maintaining sharp claws would be difficult as they’re required for grip while running, so no point in retractability. They are a compromise between speed and weaponry.

      1. Thank you – that’s what I wanted to know as well! And it all boils down to LOGIC, doesn’t it. My take on evolution vs religion – sense vs nonsense, natural vs supernatural, logical vs illogical – and I’m sure there are more….

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