Saturday, June 09, 2007

adopt a cheetah

A recent report in Proceeding of the Royal Society describes the genetic relationship among cheetah litter mates. They found that almost half the litters were comprised kittens of mixed paternity. Female cheetah parole a territory of 300-400 km2 and this allows them to interact with more than one male during a single reproductive cycle. This is a behavior that they share with the common cat. A summary of the paper can be found here.

One finding that struck me was that within the 47 litters surveyed, they found 3 instances of adoption by mother cheetahs of unrelated kittens. This finding has been described previously and there are several ideas as to the potential selective advantage this behavior. My first question is given the huge territories these cats parole, how on earth do the new mothers find orphaned kittens?

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