Did you know that Cheetahs can’t roar? Despite all of the David Attenborough and National Geographic nature films, this is something that until now I was blissfully unaware of. Sure, I had seen them dozens of times on television, and even from time to time in zoos, but the fact that I failed to hear a roar didn’t seem to signify to me that cheetahs can’t roar. I suppose I subconsciously put it down to the fact that just because I hadn’t heard them roar it didn’t mean that they can’t. So why can’t they?
The reason cheetahs can’t roar is because of a difference in a piece of anatomy in the throat called the hyoid bone. All cats have this hyoid bone, but only the big cats that can roar have a two piece hyoid bone. The two piece hyoid bone is what makes it possible for cats to roar. Cheetahs only have a one-piece hyoid bone. But not being able to roar doesn’t mean that they are a quite cat. On the contrary. They can perform a large range of vocalizations, and some of them can be heard from around a mile away.
The most commonly heard noise from a cheetah is the chirping sound, which you can hear in the video below. This is a high pitched barking sound that they use when they try to find another cheetah. The chirps can be so loud that they can be heard from over a mile away.
Some other sound they make are churring, which is a sound that they use when socializing, growling, which is a sound that they make when they become annoyed of aggressive, and this can escalate to yowling, which is similar to growling. They can also purr like a household cat when they are happy and content.
So now you know that cheetahs can’t roar, would you like to know just how many big cats can roar? The only cats that can roar are the lion, tiger, leopard, and jaguar.