When Rosalie left the cubs to eat her breakfast, we had just enough time to quickly weigh each cub and shave a small bit of fur off. These shave marks allow us to quickly identify the cubs so we can keep track of the cubs’ weights and health while they are young.
We also think we were also able to determine whether each is male or female! We will know for sure when the cubs have their first full exam in late November. For now, we believe Rosalie has three boys and two girls! We shaved the assumed girls on their right side and the boys on their left. The shave marks should last at least a week, which is around the time we hope to weigh them again. There is a rainstorm predicted for this weekend and, in an abundance of caution, we do not want to do anything that may prompt Rosalie to move the cubs into the yard again.
Front Royal, Virginia — where the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is located — is experiencing a lovely autumn, temperature-wise. I am not concerned about the cubs getting cold while they are inside the artificial den. While this den is not heated, we have placed a lot of hay to insulate it. The other den in Rosalie’s yard is heated, so she may choose to move the family into that den when the temperature dips.
In addition to the dens, cheetah cubs develop the ability to thermoregulate, or adjust their body temperature, overtime as they grow. While we do not know exactly when a cheetah can fully thermoregulate, we believe cubs older than a month can. Rosalie's cubs are just over 2 weeks old.