Most runners love to compare themselves to others.
Maybe it’s the next-door neighbor, the other guys or gals in your age group, your teammates in your running club, or the elite and professional runners and world record holders, but whomever you measure your PRs against, it’s fun and motivating to see how you stack up to others.
This natural competitive spark doesn’t begin and end with other human runners. Lots of runners are curious to know how fast animals run in comparison to their own human speed.
How fast can a cheetah run? How fast can an ostrich run? How fast can a bear run? What are the fastest animals?
Whether you enjoy watching nature documentaries narrated by the smooth-talking David Attenborough and want to know how fast an alligator can run, or you enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby and want to know how fast a horse can run, or perhaps you’re curious to know which animals you can outrun, keep reading for our animal running speed guide.
Be prepared to have renewed awe for the animal kingdom.
We will look at:
- How Fast Can a Cheetah Run?
- How Fast Can a Bear Run?
- How Fast Can a Horse Run?
- How Fast Can an Ostrich Run?
- How Fast Can an Alligator Run?
- How Fast Can a Lion Run?
- How Fast Can Cats Run?
- How Fast Can a Kangaroo Run?
- How Fast Can a Pig Run?
- How Fast Can an Elephant Run?
- How Fast Can a Greyhound Run?
- How Fast Can a Mouse Run?
- How Fast Can a Tortoise Run?
- What Is the Fastest Animal On the Planet?
- Animal Running Speeds
That’s a lot! Let’s get started!
How Fast Can a Cheetah Run?
Most people know that cheetahs are the fastest land animals, but exactly how fast can a cheetah run? This speedy member of the cat family can reach top running speeds between 70 and 75 miles per hour (112-120 km/h) while hunting for short sprints up to 460 m (1,500 ft).
Not only are cheetah’s the fastest land animals when it comes to top running speeds, but they also have incredible acceleration.
Cheetahs can accelerate from 0 to 64 mph (103 km/hr) in just 3 seconds, outpacing most race cars.
How Fast Can a Bear Run?
If you’re a trail runner, there’s a good chance you’ve either spotted a bear or worried that you’d encounter a bear while running. Although you shouldn’t attempt to outrun a bear, you might find yourself wondering, “How fast can a bear run?”
Bears are surprisingly fast runners. The brown bear, which is found in northern Eurasia and North America, can run up to 22 mph (35 km per hour).
These large bears can weigh anywhere from 220 to 1,500 pounds (100 to 680 kilograms) and can stand as high as 2.5 meters tall. Therefore, when considering the relative size of a brown bear compared to a human runner who is 5’8” (173 cm) tall, a brown bear’s running speed would feel like running 15 mph (24 km/hr).
The polar bear can be even larger than the brown bear, with the average adult male weighing around 770-1,500 pounds (350-680 kg).
Polar bears can also run quite fast for their size, hitting top speeds of approximately 18 mph (30 kilometers per hour).
Grizzly bears, which are subspecies of brown bears found in North America, can run super fast, hitting speeds of nearly 35 mph (56 kilometers per hour).
How Fast Can a Horse Run?
Next to “How fast can a cheetah run,” “How fast can a horse run?” is among the most popular queries when it comes to animal running speeds.
Horses are beautiful, athletic, and surprisingly graceful for their size.
Trotting, which is akin to jogging, is usually around 8-12 mph (13-19 km/hr) for standard domestic horses, and slightly faster for race horses.
When a horse canters, which is considered a lope or three-beat gait, they move at a speed of about 12-15 mph (19-24 km/hr).
The horse’s fastest run, which is a gait referred to as galloping, can reach speeds of 25-30 mph (40-48 km/hr).
With that said, race horses have reached sprinting speeds as fast as 55 mph (88 km/hr) for short distances.
How Fast Can an Ostrich Run?
Although most birds fly rather than run, ostrich’s only run, as they are flightless birds and super fast runners at that. The ostrich is the fastest bird when it comes to top land speed, capable of reaching running speeds of 45 mph (70 km/hr) when trying to escape capture from predators such as lions.
The ostrich has an impressive stride length that can be as long as 10-16 feet (3-5 meters). These large land birds weigh around 120 kg and stand 2.7 meters tall.
How Fast Can an Alligator Run?
Even the fastest runners certainly don’t want to find themselves needing to outrun an alligator snapping at their heels.
These fast reptiles can not only move as fast as 20 mph (32 km/hr) in the water, but they can run an impressive 35 mph (56 km/hr) on land.
Perhaps the only piece of good news is that alligators tire quickly, so if you’re training for a marathon, maybe your endurance will save you!
How Fast Can a Lion Run?
Although lions aren’t as fast as their feline relatives—the speedy cheetahs—they are still impressive runners in their own right, especially for their size.
While the average cheetah weighs roughly 43 pounds (65 kg), lions weigh around 440 pounds (200 kg). These big cats can reach speeds of around 50 mph (80 km/hr), but they cannot sustain this for much time.
In fact, the endurance of a lion is particularly poor. This is largely due to the fact that their heart muscle is only between 0.45 (male lions) and 0.57 (female lions) percent of their total body weight, which is much less than many animals. For example, a hyena’s heart is about 1 percent of their body weight.
For reference, the human heart is roughly 0.69 percent of our total body weight.
How Fast Can Cats Run?
Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) take after their cheetah relatives in terms of being fast runners.
Cats have been integrated with humans in a social way for over 9,500 years.
They are said to be able to run 30 mph (48 km/hr) if they are motivated to do so, such as when they are afraid and outrunning a perceived danger.
How Fast Can a Kangaroo Run?
Kangaroos don’t really “run” per se, as their means of locomotion is a two-footed hop rather than a reciprocal gait or run. They can also do a form of tripod “crawl-walking” by dropping down to their forearms and lifting their hind legs, which themselves are too long for walking.
However, while their means of locomotion is certainly different from human runners, the kangaroo’s hopping speed is still quite impressive.
In fact, although the typical, comfortable hopping speed of a Red Kangaroo is around 13-16 mph (20-25 km/hr), they can hop up to speeds as fast as 44 mph (70 km/hr) for short sprints, or can maintain a brisk 40 mph (25 mph) run for up to 2 kilometers when trying to escape predators.
How Fast Can a Pig Run?
One of the favorite farm animals, domestic pigs, are certainly not what comes to mind when most people think of the fastest animals. After all, in folklore, pigs are often pitted as gluttonous animals.
In reality, however, domestic pigs are not only fairly social and intelligent creatures, but they are also decent sprinters.
Although their endurance isn’t great, domestic pigs can run as fast as 11 miles per hour (17 km/hr). Plus, they can reach this speed in just a few strides.
How Fast Can an Elephant Run?
The African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana) can reach top running speeds of 25 mph (40 km/hr), which seems very fast for a beautiful beast of that size.
Elephants “run” with one front foot on the ground and the two hind feet and other front foot off the ground, so there’s no true flightless phase.
How Fast Can a Greyhound Run?
As hunting dogs, greyhounds can be fantastic sprinters, which is why they are often used for racing.
However, they don’t make the best running companions for distance runners, as they tend to have a poor tolerance for sustaining a slower speed for several miles.
With that said, racing greyhounds can run 40 miles per hour (65 km/hr), covering 59 feet, or 18 meters, per second.
How Fast Can a Mouse Run?
Since many scientific studies that investigate some aspect of running involve mice to spare the risks of testing human subjects, we might as well consider how fast mice can run.
The House Mouse (Mus musculus), can run 8.1 mph or 13 km/hr. Not bad for such a tiny creature!
How Fast Can a Tortoise Run?
Let’s make ourselves as human runners feel fast here for a minute. How fast can a tortoise run?
The Galápagos giant tortoise, which is the largest living species of tortoises, can live up to 150 years! These prehistoric-looking reptiles can weigh 661 pounds (300 kg) and can only walk 0.2 mph (0.4 km/hr.).
What Is the Fastest Animal On the Planet?
While cheetahs are the fastest known land animals, the fastest known animal on the planet relative to their body size is a mite (Paratarsotomus macropalpis).
This tiny invertebrate can run 22 cm/second (8.7 in/sec). Because this creature is only 0.7 mm long, this equates to 322 body lengths per second.
The equivalent running speed for a human runner would be about 1,300 mph (2,092 km/hr)!
Animal Running Speeds
Although different sources vary somewhat in terms of animal running speeds, the following table displays approximations of the fastest running speeds for different animals:
|Animal||Running Speed (mph)||Running Speed (km/hr)|
Which animal speed are you most impressed by? Let’s test you: so how fast can a cheetah run?
If you would like to check out some of the fastest humans on the planet, take a look at our Running World Records List!