#CheetahCubdate 6: Smile with Your Teeth

This update was written by cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier.
Five cheetah cubs lay on hay inside a small building with white walls which act as a den. The left cub has its mouth open, showing a few teeth on top. Two other cubs also have their mouths open. The middle cub is laying down facing away from the camera.
Take a close look at the far left cub's mouth. The angle is just right to see its top teeth starting to come in!

Rosalie’s five 3-week-old cubs have us smiling! Over the weekend, keepers did a quick visual check on the cubs and noticed at least one had some teeth. The angle of the front left cub’s head in the above photo is just right to see the top teeth starting to come in.

At this time there are no new behaviors from the cubs with the growth of their teeth. Once they start leaving the den on their own and following mom outside, we will place a tray with premium beef outside the den to encourage them to try meat. They should be able to leave the den on their own in the next week or so, and we usually do the first meat tray around 5 weeks old. 

Five cheetah cubs sit in the back of an enclosure "den" with white walls and hay covering the ground. All five cubs faces are showing.

Since our update last week, the cold and rainy autumn weather has arrived at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. In an abundance of caution, are continuing to take things slow to avoid prompting Rosalie to move the cubs into the yard again. We have not weighed or handled the cubs since last week. However, we are able to clean the yard and peek into the den almost every day to grab photos of the cubs while Rosalie eats in her building.

We think there’s a chance Rosalie may choose to move the cubs to the other den in her yard. We noticed her going in and inspecting the other den by herself. The other den is heated and stocked with fresh hay, whereas she and the cubs have been in the current den for over nine days now. It’s natural for cheetah moms to move their litter. In the wild, they wouldn’t stay in one place too long because the smell would attract predators. Have no fear, Cheetah Cub Cam viewers: there is a live-streaming camera in that den, too!

The cubs are climbing on everything they can, including mom! Rosalie is very tolerant and there have been a few touching moments, like this one.

As I’ve mentioned in previous updates, the cubs continue to gain mobility and strength in their legs. The cubs are climbing on everything they can, exploring whatever their legs will allow them to reach.  Most recently, I’ve noticed the cubs climbing more on Rosalie. She is very tolerant and there have been a few adorable moments. Cheetah Cub Cam viewers have the best chance of catching one of these moments in the morning after Rosalie comes back from eating breakfast.  

Smile as you watch the cheetah cubs live on the Cheetah Cub Cam and read up on the previous updates here.