The Fastest Animals
Which are the fastest animals in the air, on land and in the water?
Here is a list of the 18 fastest animals in the world. We also have exciting facts for you - for example how to measure their speed and why animals don't always move at maximum speed.
Did you know that during a peregrine falcon's nose dive is as fast as a formula 1 racing car? And that a cheetah, the fastest land animal, would probably be too fast for an ordinary speedometer?
The Fastest Animals by Type of Locomotion
To clarify which animals fly, run and swim the fastest, here are the absolute top 3:
|Fastest animal in the air||Peregrine falcon||200 mph (322 km/h)|
|Fastest animal on land||Cheetah||56-74.5 mph (90-120 km/h)|
|Fastest animal in the water||Sailfish||46-68 mph (75-110 km/h)|
Top 18 Fastest Animals in the World
|Fastest bird (nose dive)||Peregrine falcon||200 mph (322 km/h)|
|Fastest mammal (flying)||Mexican free-tailed bat||100 mph (160 km/h)|
|Fastest bird (flying)||Grey-headed albatross||79 mph (127 km/h)|
|Fastest terrestrial animal (short distance)||Cheetah||56-74.5 mph (90-120 km/h)|
|Fastest fish||Sailfish||46-68 mph (75-110 km/h)|
|Fastest terrestrial animal (long distance)||Mexican pronghorn||55 mph (88 km/h)|
|Fastest bird (running)||Ostrich||43 mph (70 km/h)|
|Fastest dog||Greyhound||43 mph (70 km/h)|
|Fastest rabbit||Brown hare||43 mph (70 km/h)|
|Fastest marine mammal||Orca||40 mph (65 km/h)|
|Fastest marsupial||Kangaroo||34 mph (55 km/h)|
|Fastest insect (flying)||Hawker dragonfly A. costalis||31 mph (50 km/h)|
|Fastest seal||Californian seal||25 mph (40 km/h)|
|Fastest bird (in the water)||Gentoo penguin||22 mph (36 km/h)|
|Fastest reptile (in the water)||Leatherback turtle||22 mph (35 km/h)|
|Fastest reptile (running)||Spinytail iguana||22 mph (35 km/h)|
|Fastest insect (running)||Tiger beetle||5.5 mph (9 km/h)|
|Fastest starfish||Common sunstar||9.8 ft/minute (3 m/minute)|
Average and Maximum Speed
While hunting or on the run, animals are able to move very fast for a short while. If you are late for the bus or for your first lesson at school you also tend to run much faster than usual. Yet, you cannot keep up this speed all day. This would be much too exhausting. The same with animals. The speeds listed here therefore apply for short distances only.
How to Measure Speed
The same cameras can be used that are applied to detect cars driving too fast. Sometimes stopwatches or collars with speedometers are used as well. Some scientists follow the animals in their cars and use the speedometer to determine their speed. All methods have in common that speed cannot be measured with absolute precision. Therefore, there is always different information and everyone claims to be right. Frequently, this causes scientific arguments. animalfunfacts.net therefore always specifies a range of speeds such as 56-74.5 mph (90-120 km/h).
It would not make sense to follow the cheetah with a car, as it frequently and abruptly changes its direction and cannot be trained to run straight for a long distance. In order to measure the speed of a cheetah you have to attach a collar to its neck and wait until it goes hunting for prey. But this still does not, mean that the cheetah is running at maximum speed. It only runs as fast as necessary to save energy – and only distances of 1,312-1,640 feet (400-500 meters).
Cockroaches Are Faster than Expected
Yet, the “slow” animals among the fastest are stunning as well: A cockroach can easily keep up with a briskly walking human. The tiger beetle is even faster. And if you are not fast enough on your bicycle, you could be overtaken by a leguan.