Cheetahs become more nocturnal and less active in high temperatures which may have negative survival consequences

Cheetahs at night
Cheetahs at night. Photo in public domain. Collage: PoC.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

A new study: Increasing ambient temperatures trigger shifts in activity patterns and temporal partitioning in a large carnivore guild, has concluded that the cheetah becomes more active at night i.e. tends to become nocturnal with high ambient temperatures and they also decrease their activity levels. The cheetah is a large wild cat species which is active in the daytime normally, at dawn and dusk (diurnal).

Cheetah activity overlaps more with lion activity

What are the consequences of the study’s findings? Well, firstly they found that because the cheetah is more active at night, they are likely to encounter other predators more often which may endanger them. In the language of the study, “The nocturnal shift was most pronounced in cheetahs, the most diurnal species during median temperatures. This shift increased temporal overlap between cheetahs and other carnivore species by up to 15.92%.”

What they scientists are saying here is that often carnivores keep a distance from each other through timeshare in effect. They separate themselves by being active at different times. But when it’s hot it appears that the cheetah is forced to overlap their activities with other carnivores which might endanger them.

Can the cheetah be domesticated?
Beautiful, proud cheetah. Photo in public domain.

Four species in the study

The study looked at four “sympatric species”. This means species living in the same geographical place. They were lions, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs.

RELATED: 2 reasons why cheetahs are reproducing poorly

Time when they are active

Leopards are generally nocturnal animals. They spend most of the daytime resting in camouflaged places and hiding. Lions hunt prey at night. However, African wild dogs are diurnal hunting in the morning and early evening. Cheetahs are visual hunters and therefore active in the daytime, in the early morning and late afternoon as mentioned.

Cheetah endangered when more active at night

You can see from that information that if the cheetah becomes more active at night to avoid high temperatures, they are more likely to encounter the lion, an apex predator which cheetahs do their best to avoid. The same would apply to the other predators.

Global warming

The final point to make is this: global warming may, based on the above information, have a negative impact on the survival of the cheetah in those places where these other predators are extant (meaning not extinct and therefore present).

Link to the study mentioned: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2007.0502

RELATED: What’s faster: greyhound or cheetah?

Female cheetah’s promiscuity

Separately, it was found in an earlier study published on the same website that female cheetahs are promiscuous in human terminology. In the language of the study scientists: “The results also demonstrated that female fidelity was low, and provided some evidence that females chose to mate with unrelated males within an oestrous cycle.”

The study found a high rate of multiple paternity in that, “43% of litters with more than one cub were fathered by more than one male.”

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