The Fastest Land Animals
How fast are land animals? There are several 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 which 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, short/long distances etc.
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).
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.
And how fast is the human?
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.