Cheetah says “cheep, cheep, cheepity cheep.”
I ‘ve known for a while that baby cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) make strange chirping noises, but I never thought much about the adult calls until I got this from reader Steve:
Well, I had to check that out, of course, and it’s true that cheetahs can’t roar. Here’s one that sounds like a bird. I played it to a friend who couldn’t see the video, and she said, “It’s a bird, of course.”
From the YouTube notes:
Everybody knows that lions roar, but what noise do cheetahs make? They have a range of noises, from growls to purs, but the most distinctive is a bird-like cheep, technically known as a chirrup. This will be made when a mother is communicating to its young or when excited.
This cheetah, spotted in the Mara North Conservation Area, had been until recently with its mother. She must have decided he was big enough to look after himself so had slipped away and left him, leaving him to fend for himself. He is calling out for her, assuming that she has gone hunting but getting hungry.
You can hear a variety of cheetah vocaolizations on YouTube, but they don’t include roars. One site has ten of them; be sure to listen to “cheetah talking.”
The cheetah is doubly disadvantaged. Besides sounding like a tweetie-bird, it’s the only cat that cannot retract its claws.