Cheetah Variations and Subspecies
There are some variations and subspecies of the Cheetah out there. They are very interesting animals but have some distinctions that are going to further separate them from each other. It is hard to know what all has taken place for the Cheetah over the course of millions of years.
There is written documentation dating back to 1608. It talks about the Emperor of India and the white colored Cheetah that he had.
Today we know that this particular Cheetah had a type of genetic makeup that is known as albinism. This results in the amount of pigment that is on the skin and hair to be very limited. It is very hard for this type of Cheetah to survive in the wild. Their coloring doesn’t offer them a chance to blend into the surroundings for protection. They also have skin that is very sensitive to the sunlight.
Reports of the other extreme which is a Cheetah with dark coloring have been reported. This is also a type of genetic mutation. It is called melanism and these Cheetahs are usually mistaken for the dark colored panther. It isn’t know how many of them are actually in the wild. It is believed that the number is extremely low.
Some experts believe that there was once a wooly Cheetah. This particular subspecies would have been able to use that wooly fur to help it survive in the colder regions. Others though argue that this was also the result of a recessive gene. We don’t have enough information yet to confirm it one way or another.
There is evidence though to suggest that several subspecies of the Cheetah may have been around in the past. At least six of them have been identified based on fossil remains. It is believed that most of them are either completely extinct or that they live in such limited numbers that the genetic pool for them won’t be able to see them ever thrive in large numbers.
The King Cheetah was once thought to be a different species completely. However, through DNA testing and research we now know that isn’t the case. Instead, they have a genetic mutation. It has a difference that shows in the patterns on fur coat. This type of Cheetah was first identified in 1926. There aren’t too many of them in the wild at all because this mutation is quite rare.
However, in captivity they are often bred in order to keep that mutation going. This type of fur coat often draws people to the zoos in order to get an up close and personal look at it. This is the most popular of all of the variations of the Cheetah though. In the times when the fur coats were very popular they were carefully hunted. The goal was to preserve the appearance of the coat as much as possible.
It can be fun to find out more information about the various Cheetahs and the subspecies. When you see them being completely different from what you know now you can identify the various changes that have affected this particular type of animal. You can also view some great photos of their furs online. This is a great method for being able to compare them with each other.