The male cheetah stutter-bark is sexy to a female cheetah. Unlike humans the female cheetah does not have a regular reproductive cycle. Female cheetahs ovulated rarely and at irregular times. Research indicates that at least one factor that can trigger ovulation is the voice (or one of the voices) of the male cheetah. Females our seasonally polyoestrous and they come into oestrus approximately every 12 days. This is the very specific male cheetah bark that has been described as a “stutter-bark”. There is an audio file below.
I have to say that it has been extraordinarily difficult to find a recording of the male cheetah stutter bark. This is a recording from a video on YouTube of a captive cheetah. In the background a woman is talking. The bark is intermingled with a cheetah meow. There is no mention of the bark in the premier book on wild cats published 2002 (Wild Cats of the World by the Sunquists). At the time it was unknown, I suspect.
Some days before mating, the male cheetah is seen making this barking voice. Maybe he is simply talking to the female and requesting mating. Or it could just be the sound of the voice that turns her on?
It seems to me that not much is known about the male cheetah stutter-bark. Scientists have studied cheetah vocalisations and it is said that they stumbled upon the discovery of the bark. They noticed that the male’s bark was made days before breeding took place according to researcher Matt Anderson at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
The scientists introduced a sexually mature female cheetah to a couple of males and recorded their calls and monitored their hormones in their faeces. They discovered that the male stutter-bark triggered increases in the female hormone oestrogen and also the hormone progesterone. These increases were found in the females’ faeces. They concluded that increases in the stutter-bark resulted in raised levels of the female reproductive hormones which are responsible for ovulation.
They were surprised to see such a link between a vocalisation of the cheetah and hormone levels. Interesting to me is that the study was discussed by National Geographic in 2009. This is the top search item as found by Google, today, April 18, 2022, when searching for “male cheetah bark mating”.
A search on Google Scholar did not produce anything of use at this time either. It seems that more work is required on understanding the male cheetah stutter-bark.
Clearly this research is important for breeding programs for cheetahs in captivity where it has been difficult to successfully breed cheetahs. Bearing in mind the low and dwindling population of cheetahs in the wild, successful breeding programs are important. More important, though, is to stop reducing the size of the cheetah habit, the major cause of dwindling cheetah populations in Africa, especially Namibia.