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What is the color of a baby cheetah?

Cheetahs are one of the most iconic and recognizable animals on the planet. Known for their incredible speed and distinctive spotted coats, cheetahs capture the imagination of people around the world. Baby cheetahs, also called cubs, are extra special with their extra fluffy fur and big blue eyes. But what color are baby cheetahs when they are first born?

Baby Cheetah Fur Colors

Baby cheetahs have soft, thick fur that helps protect them and keep them warm. This baby fur, called cub fur, is extra fluffy compared to adult cheetah fur. The fur of newborn cheetah cubs is typically gray or smoke-colored. Their fur does not yet have the iconic solid black spots and tear streaks under the eyes that adult cheetahs display.

Here are the typical colors of newborn cheetah cubs:

  • Light gray
  • Dark gray
  • Smoke-colored
  • Blue-gray

This fluffy gray baby fur provides camouflage to hide the vulnerable cubs from predators. It helps them blend into their grassy savannah surroundings in Africa where cheetahs live. The gray color helps conceal the cubs while their mother is away hunting prey.

When Do Cheetah Cubs Get Their Spots?

Cheetah cubs are born with all of their spots already there hidden in their fur. But the spots are difficult to see at first because the cub’s thick woolly coat obscures them.

At about 3 months old, cheetah cubs start to lose their baby fur, and the fur becomes thinner. As the fluffy gray coat begins to fall out, the iconic solid black spots on a tawny background become visible.

By 6 months old, cheetah cubs have lost most of the gray fur and have the full adult patterns of spots and colored fur. Here is the timeline for a cub’s coat development:

Age Coat Description
Newborn Thick, fluffy, woolly fur in solid gray or smoke color
3 months Gray coat starts thinning as spots become slightly visible
6 months Iconic spotted pattern is fully visible as gray fur has mostly shed

What Causes the Change in Fur Color?

So what makes a cheetah cub’s coat change from gray to spotted as it matures? The change is driven by developmental genes.

All cheetahs have a genetic code for black spots. This spotted pattern is intrinsic to the cheetah species. When cubs are born, their genes dictate that the spots will be obscured by a protective gray fur coat.

Around 3 months, the cubs’ genes trigger the gray fur to start shedding. As this fluffy coat falls out, it reveals the hidden black spots genetically programmed into the cheetah’s DNA.

By 6 months, the coat has fully transitioned to the adult pattern of spots that the cheetah’s genes encode.

Spotted Coat Provides Camouflage for Hunting

A cheetah’s distinctive spotted coat serves an important purpose for the world’s fastest land animal. The spots help provide camouflage for stalking and hunting prey across the open grasslands of Africa.

When a cheetah crouches in the grasses, its spotted coat helps it blend into the surrounding environment. The spots break up its outline and make it harder for prey animals like gazelles to detect the lurking cheetah.

This camouflage helps the cheetah sneak close to prey before bursting forth at up to 70 mph to pursue its target. The spots aid the cheetah’s ability to surprise attack its prey.

Unique Spot Pattern on Each Cheetah

While all cheetahs have spots, each cheetah’s spot pattern is unique, just like human fingerprints. Researchers use cheetahs’ distinctive spot patterns to identify individual cheetahs in the wild.

No two cheetahs have exactly the same pattern of spots. Cubs inherit their unique spot patterns from their mother’s genes. Spot patterns can even be used to identify twins or siblings who have the same mother.

So while all baby cheetahs start with fluffy solid gray fur, they soon develop their own one-of-a-kind spots as the gray coat sheds.

Summary of Baby Cheetah Colors

In summary:

  • Newborn cheetah cubs have thick, woolly fur in various shades of gray.
  • At around 3 months old, cubs start shedding their fluffy coats as spots become visible.
  • By 6 months of age, the full adult spotted pattern has emerged.
  • Each cheetah’s distinctive spot pattern is determined by its genes.
  • The change from gray cub coat to adult spots is driven by developmental genes that code for the spots.
  • The iconic spotted coat helps provide camouflage for hunting on the savannah.

So while they may start life in solid grays and blues, baby cheetahs rapidly mature into some of the most beautifully spotted big cats on the planet. Their unique spot patterns make every cheetah truly one-of-a-kind.


The color of baby cheetahs as newborns is typically gray or smoke-colored. This provides camouflage while they are vulnerable cubs. Around 3 months old, cheetahs start to shed their thick woolly cub coat, and their genetically programmed spot pattern starts to emerge. By 6 months old, cheetahs have transitioned to the full adult spotted coat that helps them hunt prey on the African savannah. So baby cheetahs are born gray and fluffy but soon develop into the iconic and uniquely patterned spotted coats people associate with cheetahs.