Agonistic sounds of cheetah

Name: Low Jing Yong A0072155L    Group 11


The animal that I will be discussing is Acinonyx jubatus, which is also commonly known as cheetah. Cheetah is one of the more vocal felids and actually made different type of sounds and vocalizations at different period of time. They chirp, stutter, purr and make agonistic vocalizations at different occasions. However, I will only be covering the agonistic sounds that include moans, growls, hisses and spits.


There is a sequence of agonistic sounds they make as their aggression escalates. They will start with growling; follow by moaning, then occasional hissing before ending with spitting.


When cheetah is “at danger”, it will move into a crouching position and growls which are mainly non-periodic. Its eyes will be fixated at its intended target. If the threat starts to escalate, cheetah will often moan which sounded more like a howl in the video. The cheetah will still be in its crouching posture during this vocalization. Occasionally, the cheetah will hiss which is “characterized by strong non-periodic noise”. Hissing is often intertwined with moaning and growling.

Lastly, it will end the sequence with spitting and it is often accompanied with the cheetah aggressively hitting its front paws to the ground. I believe that the action accompanied with the spitting is to scare the aggressor away because the cheetah will retreat a few meters immediately after the spit/paw-hit. However, it will often return and starts the sequence again.


The author explains that “Cheetahs use their agonistic sounds in intra- and interspecific communication, in the latter case especially towards other (and larger) carnivores present in their natural habitat, to many of which the cheetah is physically inferior.” Thus, the interesting agonistic sounds sequence is actually used to warn off other aggressors and the spit/paw-hit is quite impactful.



“An acoustic analysis of agonistic sounds in wild cheetahs,” by Robert Eklund, Gustav Peters, Florian Weise and Stuart Munro. 01 June 2012. URL: (accessed on 21 March 2013)

“wild cheetahs agonistic sounds growling moaning hissing spitting” by DrJubatus, 09 July 2012. URL: ( accessed on 21 March 2013)