Are cheetahs nocturnal? There isn’t a black-and-white answer to this question. It depends on where the cheetahs are. Although cheetahs mainly hunt by day, their hours vary slightly from place to place.
For example, in the Sahara, where understandably it is very hot with daytime temperatures reaching 43°C, cheetahs do most of their hunting at night and also in the relatively cool daybreak moments.
In the Serengeti, cheetahs hunt slightly later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon than lions and hyenas. It is presumed that this is to avoid these larger predators and carnivores who are a danger to the cheetah and to avoid or minimise competing for prey.
In the Masai Mara region of south-western Kenyan, it is recorded that cheetahs are active mainly between 7:30 am and 10 am and then between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Cheetahs in this region normally rests at midday.
In the Serengeti and in Namibia cheetahs have been recorded hunting at night but as at 2002 there was a lack of information on their night-time activities. In general, family groups spend the night resting in open grassy areas. They were found in the same place in the evening and the morning. However, juvenile groups and males sometimes continued to move during the night.
P.S. – I have relied heavily upon page 24 of Wild Cats of the World and even taken the liberty of quoting short sections of that excellent book. Buy the book if you want to study the wild cat species because I highly recommend it and I rely on it extensively. Although it must be added that the book was published in 2002 and things change particularly in relation to conservation when it can happen quite rapidly.
Below are the references. If you want more detail, please ask: