Is a cheetah born with spots?

BBC Wildlife's Q&A editor Sarah McPherson discusses cheetah spots.

Cheetah family in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya © Paul Souders/Getty

Yes – and the pattern, as unique to each individual as fingerprints are to humans, stays the same throughout its life.


A cub is quite dark at birth, with tufts of silver-grey fur along its back, helping it to blend into tall grass. This mantle is lost from about three months.


Do you have a wildlife question you’d like answered? Email your question to or post it to Q&A, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, 2nd Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN