Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land, capable of reaching speeds up to 70mph! Just like top human athletes, cheetahs need to get plenty of sleep to ensure they function at their best.
In fact, cheetahs, like many other big cats, spend most of their time sleeping and saving energy for the chase. As cheetahs live in sub-Saharan Africa where temperatures can soar, they especially enjoy sleeping during the hottest parts of the day to save more energy. In order to get the best sleep possible, cheetahs visit a variety of locations that they find more suitable than others.
But where do they get their sleep? If you have ever pondered this question, here is a closer look into the different places where cheetahs prefer to sleep.
Where exactly do cheetahs sleep?
Cheetahs spend the vast majority of their time asleep because sleeping is the best way for them to conserve their energy and prepare for hunting. As they live in open areas of arid grassland, cheetahs like to sleep in places that best allow them to avoid the intense heat of the day.
When cheetahs need to sleep, they will retreat to the safety of large, shady trees. Whilst cheetahs are amongst the most successful predators on the savannah, they still have to be wary of lions, hyenas, and leopards that might attack them, so cheetahs feel much safer taking shelter under large trees or bushes that can provide them with some cover or a place to hide.
The most important thing that cheetahs need for sleeping, however, is shade – if they overheat, they lose vital energy.
In many areas where cheetahs live, dense foliage or trees are not very common. In the absence of trees, cheetahs will find any area that stays well shaded during the hottest parts of the day.
Do cheetahs sleep in dens?
Cheetahs typically live solitary lives, so do not often sleep in dens. When a female cheetah gives birth, however, she will set up a small den to keep her cubs safe and hidden from other predators while they grow.
A cheetah will give birth to between 3-5 cubs, so it is important for a female cheetah to keep them safe and find protected areas for them to rest in. When establishing a den, a female cheetah will choose an area that is more dense in foliage than usual in order to keep the cubs hidden from other predators.
The female cheetah will choose a location near a tree or large bush for her den, with plenty of grass coverage nearby so that she can leave the cubs alone when she goes out hunting.
Like the adults, cheetah cubs also spend much of their time sleeping, so it is important for them to have a safe den in which to do so without being attacked.
Where do cheetahs sleep in captivity?
In captivity, cheetahs display much the same behaviour as they do in the wild – sleeping for most of the day.
Even though the weather in most countries where cheetahs are kept in zoos doesn’t get as hot as Africa, cheetahs still like to get as much sleep as they can in captivity – it is simply in their nature.
Cheetahs in captivity will quite happily sleep in a covered shelter at night, but you will often find them lounging under trees during the day – just as they would in the wild.
As cheetahs spend most of their time sleeping in order to avoid the hottest parts of the African days, they need to find shady places where they can sleep and best conserve their energy.
Cheetahs prefer to sleep under larger trees or bushes that not only shade them for most of the day and keep them cool, but also provide cover and help to hide them from other larger predators that might want to attack them.
When a female cheetah gives birth, she will set up a den in an especially shady spot with plenty of grass around to keep her cubs hidden and safe from harm.
In captivity, cheetahs behave in much the same way as they do in the wild and can be seen sleeping under tree cover and in any shade that they can get in order to help them stay cool and conserve energy during the day. At night, captive cheetahs will happily sleep in man-made shelters.