1. There's a small population of cheetahs in Iran

Picture a running cheetah and it's likely you'll conjure a backdrop of African grasslands.

But one tiny population of a critically endangered subspecies is to be found in the remote central plateaus of Iran – that of the Asiatic cheetah.

The animal's range once covered India, Pakistan, Russia, and the Middle East, but now an estimated 60-100 of the creatures are all that remain.

Asiatic cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) have smaller heads, shorter legs, thicker coats, and more powerful necks than their African relatives.

And they've surprised researchers with their capacity to travel exceptionally long distances across their range.

2. Their survival rate is shockingly low

It's a tough start to life for cheetah cubs. Few studies show exact mortality figures but they can be very high – particularly for young cats in the Serengeti region of east Africa.

One study in the 1990s found that 95% of cubs monitored in the Serengeti died before reaching adulthood.

Another paper, published in 2013, found a similarly low survival rate for cubs in this region. But the same paper found cheetahs living in southern Africa's Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park had a much higher chance of making it to adolescence – at 36%.

Many deaths are attributed to lions. Other less well known predators include hyenas, baboons, and birds of prey. 

Disease and human activity also contribute to the high number of deaths. And sadly, the illegal exotic pet trade in Gulf states – where cubs are bought as fashion symbols on the black market for as much as $10,000 USD (£7,925 GBP) – is thought to be having a devastating effect on the species.

3. A running cheetah is airborne more than 50% of the time

Cheetahs are fast. Exactly how fast is disputed, but some digging by BBC Earth suggests the top recorded speed is 96kmph (61mph). That's twice as fast as Usain Bolt, who ran at 44.7kmph (27.8mph) in his world record-breaking 100m sprint.

Incredibly, a cheetah is so fast at full throttle that it reaches a 7m (23ft) stride length, and spends more than half the time airborne.

That's on top of an acceleration that would leave many sports cars in the dust, going from 0-60mph in three seconds. And their superlative speed is helped by loose hip and shoulder joints and an elastic spine.

The catch is, they can only keep it up for short bursts, meaning they only have about 20 seconds to make a kill.

4. They can't roar, climb trees or see well in the dark

Cheetahs are odd large cats. While speed is undoubtedly their most powerful weapon, they can't do some of the things we associate with other big felines.

They can't roar. Instead they purr, chirp, hiss, and even bark.

And surprisingly, their night vision is no better than ours. In fact, these cats are diurnal, preferring to hunt in the early morning and late afternoon.

They're not good at climbing trees either, but that hasn't stopped the cubs in the above clip trying.

5. Females are loners while males hang together

Female cheetahs have the monumental challenge of raising their many cubs – up to nine per litter – alone.

These tough single mums have to make a kill every other day to sustain themselves and their babies. When her cubs are small she'll leave them to go out hunting, returning and moving them to stop their scent attracting predators. 

Females only meet other cheetahs to mate. When they're ready to do this, it's time for their cubs to fend for themselves. 

Meanwhile males often form "coalitions" – groups of up to five individuals – that stay together for life. Most coalitions are brothers, but sometimes outsiders join too. 

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