How long can a cheetah live?

The question in the title is asking, indirectly, the maximum lifespan of the cheetah. I will also provide, from a very reliable source, the lifespan of the cheetah in various locations.

It is stated that as with all the felids, longevity in the wild is about half that in captivity. Wild-caught cheetahs in captivity live for between 12 and 16 years of age.

In the Serengeti “the maximum lifespan of males was 9.3 years, but the average was 5.3 years. Territorial males did not live significantly longer than non-territorial males or floaters”. The reference for this is Demography of the Serengeti cheetah population: The first 25 years. It is by eight scientists including JMK Laurenson published in 1998.

In a study of 1995 by Laurenson, regarding cub mortality, it is stated that “the mean life expectancy for females reaching three years of age was an additional 3.9 years. This estimate has been revised to 6.2 years in the 25 year dataset, with the oldest female surviving to 13.5 years.

It is on record that one wild-caught cheetah in a zoo survived to the age of 17 (reference: GW Frame, 1984. Cheetah. In the Encyclopaedia of Mammals).

The source of the above information is the well-known book Wildcats of the World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.


By contrast, in this reference work: Durant, S.; Mitchell, N.; Ipavec, A.; Groom, R. (2015). “Acinonyx jubatus”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature., they state that wild cheetahs live to 14 to 15 years for females. Males generally live as long as 10 years. This is slightly different to the data from Wild Cats of the World.




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