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The Fastest Land Animals

How fast are land animals? Here are amazing records and facts regarding speed in the world of animals.

Birds are the unbeaten champions regarding speed. But there are also many land animals, that have achieved remarkable records.

For example the cheetah that darts through the savannah at incredible speeds of 55.9-74.5 mph (90-120 km/h). The red kangaroo hops over the Australian continent at speeds of up to 54.6 mph (88 km/h). After the list containing the records you will find some interesting additional information on topics such as speed or short and long distances.

Mexican Pronghorn Mexican Pronghorn - Photo: Dennis Donohue/Shutterstock


Top 20 Fastest Animals on Land

Cheetah Animal of prey 56-75 mph (90-120 km/h)
Mexican pronghorn Hoofed animal 55 mph (88 km/h)
Springbok Hoofed animal 55 mph (88 km/h)
Thomson’s gazelle Hoofed animal 50-60 mph (80-96 km/h)
Blackbuck Hoofed animal 50 mph (80 km/h)
American quarter horse Hoofed animal 43-50 mph (70-80 km/h)
Wildebeest Hoofed animal 43-50 mph (70-80 km/h)
Brown hare Leporidae 43 mph (70 km/h)
Ostrich Ratite 43 mph (70 km/h)
Afghan hound Animal of prey 43 mph (70 km/h)
Greyhound Animal of prey 40-43 mph (65-70 km/h)
African wild dog Animal of prey 40-43 mph (65-70 km/h)
Coyote Animal of prey 43 mph (69 km/h)
Moose Hoofed animal 37 mph (60 km/h)
Lion Animal of prey 34-37 mph (55-60 km/h)
Kangaroo Diprotodontia 34 mph (55 km/h)
Rhino Hoofed animal 28-31 mph (45-50 km/h)
Polar bear Animal of prey 25 mph (40 km/h)
African elephant Trunked animal 25 mph (40 km/h)
Hippo Hoofed animal 19-25 mph (30-40 km/h)
Spinytail iguana Reptile 21.6 mph (34.9 km/h)
Tiger beetle Beetle 5.5 mph (9 km/h)
Cockroach Insect 3.3 mph (5.4 km/h)

Short and Long Distances

All speed records here relate to short distances, e.g. while hunting or trying to escape. This is very exhausting, and the animals cannot keep up these speeds for a long time. Only the Mexican pronghorn manages to cover long distances at a speed of 55 mph (88 km/h).

There’s a Difference Between Land and Water

Many animals live on shore and in the water – and achieve completely different speeds depending on the environment. The polar bear is much faster on land than in the water for instance. It achieves impressive 40 km/h on land, but only reaches a maximum of 6.2 mph (10 km/h) in the water. On the other hand, the gentoo reaches a speed of 21 mph (34 km/h) under water, but only 1.8-2.4 mph (3-4 km/h) on land. The animals are perfectly adapted to their habitats.

Speed in Relation to Size

10-20 km/h do not appear particularly fast to us humans. A trained jogger can easily reach 6 mph (10 km/h), and we can make 12 mph (20 km/h) on any bicycle. But compare this to a mouse: It can run at 8 mph (13 km/h) when in a hurry. But other than a 5.9 feet (1.80 meters) tall human being it is not bigger than 2.7-4.3 inches (7-11 cm).

The Record

For a long time, the tiger beetle was the record holder regarding speed in relation to size and weight. Even though it does not get bigger than 2.7 inches (70 mm) and weighs only a few gram, it can run across the sand at 5.5 mph (9 km/h). A human being would have to run at crazy 478 mph (770 km/h) to keep up with the tiger beetle!

But scientists found out that there is an even faster, yet very small animal out there: a mite with the scientific name paratarsotomus macropalpis. A human being running at the same speed would be 1,242 mph (2,000 km/h) fast.


How Fast Are Humans?

The fastest human being currently is the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. In 2009, he covered the distance of 328 feet (100 meters) in 9.58 seconds at a speed of 23.34 mph (37.57 km/h) – a world record. Yet, even Bolt would have no chance to escape from an elephant, a hippo or a rhino.


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