10 Fastest Animals on Land
10African Wild Dog – 44 mph
Dogs in general are fast runners, but African wild dogs are much faster than a typical canine, and can reachspeeds of 44 mph when chasing down their prey. Distinguished by their black-and-brown fur, they are known for their fast running speeds and endurance in the wild.
The wild dog is one of the most seriously endangered species in Africa. In the past, the numbers were nearly half a million; today, they are merely a few thousand. At one point, they were spotted all over sub-Sahara Africa except for the jungles and deserts. Human expansion is the main reason why the populations have declined significantly and rapidly, but disease and livestock grazing have also played a role. Botswana and Namibia have the greatest populations on the continent with over 100 dogs living near the Moremi Game Reserve.
Wild dogs are carnivorous nomads that travel to hunt for their food. They usually hunt in groups and cover long distances of area. In small packs, they can take down animals much larger than themselves, such as wildebeest and antelopes. They can also eat many times more than their own body weight. In the past, African wild dogs were found in packs of hundreds, and within this pack, they work collectively to take care of young and old dogs. They also spot their prey and engage in long-distance, high-speed chases across the terrain.
The African Wildlife Foundation is one group that has worked to maintain the populations of these dogs and reduce poaching. They keep track of current sizes and inform the public about wild dog endangerment, and they plan to improve the gene flow and increase the numbers of these fast African animals.
9Greyhound – 45 mph
Greyhound dogs are distinctively tall, skinny dogs that are renowned for their remarkable speed when compared to other domestic dogs. They have long, lean bodies that make it easier to leap through the air, and small heads and long legs that are more powerful than they look. In Europe and North America, these dogs are often bred for Greyhound racing, which is popular, yet controversial in many circles. In as little as two strides, these dogs can top speeds of 45 mph and in bursts of energy known as sprints, they can run really fast for short periods of time and then often rest for longer periods.
Greyhounds require moderate amounts of exercise but little grooming. The different fur colors include red, white, black or a combination of these shades. These dogs are easy to train and have superior watchdog abilities. The average retirement age for a racer is five years old, and many of these dogs are adopted by loving families after retirement.
The breed is one of the oldest ones on earth, having existed for nearly 10,000 years. Its origins began in the Middle East and have spread to regions in Europe, North America and Australia. In the past, these dogs were used as hunters, which helped to create their exceptional running skills. Their common prey included hares, which are also very fast creatures, and foxes.
Greyhounds are not designed for secluded living, but they still make good, loyal pets. They are runners and sprinters that need regular exercise to maintain their physique. They can run for long distances and long periods of time, making them ideal jogging partners. People allergic to dogs will find few problems with this breed. They do not do well in cold conditions, however, due to their low body fat content.
8Hare – 50 mph
The Aesop fable called The Tortoise and the Hare has made the hare renowned for its top speed. Most people believe that these animals are rabbits, but they are not. They do, however, belong to the same family and show similar characteristics. They are larger in size when compared to a rabbit and shaped differently with longer ears and longer, stronger legs that make fast running possible. They can run up to 50 mph and leap as high as 10 feet.
In Africa, parts of Asia and North America, hares may live alone or in pairs. There are also white Arctic hares living in the freezing cold regions of the Arctic Circle. Some hare species are also found in the desert, so they are very adaptable animals. Unlike rabbits, they are not domesticated and are more active in the wild. They are often seen boxing each other during breeding seasons in the spring, and they produce their young in nests instead of burrows like their rabbit cousins. Hare babies can see and defend themselves from an early age.
Hares run quickly to escape from predators like wild dogs, birds and humans. In Europe and North America, people catch them to prepare various stews and dishes. Some humans get rid of them to keep the pest numbers down. Hares have large ears designed for hearing in the distance, and they are able to detect the scent of predators, including a human, which make them difficult to catch.
Hares are shy, calm creatures that mainly eat plants, and they have been used in folklore and mythology for thousands of years. Because of their impressive speed, leaping skills and adaptability in the wild, especially in regards to their small size, humans have always been fascinated by the quick creatures.
7Blackbuck – 50 mph
The blackbuck is a type of horned animal that is almost identical to the springbok; however, the fur for males is black instead of reddish brown, like the springbok. The body type of a blackbuck is light and flexible so that it can run fast for long distances and leap over various objects. The average adult blackbuck can reach speeds of 50 mph.
They usually run to escape from predators like wolves, dogs and jackals. Before their extinction, the Asiatic cheetahs used to hunt blackbucks, too. When they sense danger, the whole herd begins leaping into the air and then galloping away. Along with their leaps and speeds, they use their sharp eyesight to see and avoid danger.
Blackbucks are found on the Indian subcontinent and mostly protected in national parks and sanctuaries. They are grazers that migrate to look for food and water. The herds vary from dozens to thousands of members. Since they prefer grazing on grass, they avoid areas with shrubs and trees.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 prevents the hunting of blackbucks, but humans still try to hunt blackbucks for their meat and skin, and some people impose on their land for livestock. In the past, they were also hunted in numerous princely states in India, and for many years, Hindus have used the skins for religious purposes. They connect the blackbuck to the moon god known as Chan-drama, and they claim that the animals bring prosperity wherever they go.
Although natives of the Middle East, blackbucks have now been introduced into parts of North and South America. In 1932, they were first sent to Texas, and they are still found today in brushes and grasslands where they graze freely.
6Lion – 50 mph
The lion is one of the top predators in Africa, and many people already know of its fierceness, but not about their great speed. Lions are carnivorous hunters that can run up to 50 mph to catch their prey, such as zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, buffaloes and elephants.
They are the biggest cats in existence after tigers, and even though males can weigh as much as 500 pounds, they are still very impressive runners. Hunting activities have significantly reduced the lion populations for decades, and many of these reductions are caused by land conflicts between lions and humans. Now, these great creatures are commonly found in national parks and reserves, however and various reintroduction programs have increased their numbers in these areas including deserts, savannas, grasslands and woodlands.
Lions are social creatures that typically hunt in groups called prides. Females hunt the most, while the males defend the prides from attacks. Lions have great abilities to stalk and kill their prey, but sometimes, the prey, such as an elephant, attacks them in return and end up killing the lions.
There are five subspecies of lions that are distinguished by their geographic location. Most of them are found in the southern and eastern regions of Africa. Hundreds of years ago, they used to roam northern Africa, Asia and Europe, but they are now nonexistent in these areas. They have been known to occupy a wide range of habitats from tall grassy areas to high mountains, and the only places where they have not been found are deserts and rainforests. However, they can survive in very arid environments.
5Wildebeests – 50 mph
Wildebeests can run as fast as 50 mph, especially if they feel threatened. There are two types of wildebeests: black and blue. They are members of the Bovidae family along with cows, goats and antelopes. Both the black and blue species are native to Africa and adapted to the grassy lands in the southern areas. The species are different mostly because they live in different regions and eat different foods, and the distinction can be made based on body colors and the orientations of the horns.
The black wildebeests migrate more often, but the blue wildebeests are more abundant in number. Despite the fact that they are hunted by animals and humans, their populations remain high and stable. Wildebeests are found in the southern and eastern parts of Africa from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Even though they used to roam lands freely, they are now confined to nature reserves and national parks due to excessive hunting.
In East Africa, large groups of blue wildebeests prepare to migrate as the season changes from dry to rainy. They migrate to find more food and water and to avoid predators. Along the way, many of them drown in rivers or get eaten by predators like lions, crocodiles and cheetahs.
There are many ways that wildebeests work to reduce predation, which is fascinating to attempt to understand. In general, they are strong, fast creatures that can attack their predators singly or in large groups. They usually move as one in a swarm, and the strongest members herd around the youngest ones to protect them from harm. Zebras commonly travel with wildebeest to keep the numbers of predators down, too. Whenever there are calls of distress from other animals, the wildebeest stay on alert.
4Ostrich – 60 mph
Ostriches are the earth’s largest, tallest birds and are known for being flightless. What many people may not know is that these animals run really fast – up to 60 mph. In Africa, humans even hop on their backs and use them in races, as they can maintain a 60 mph speed for half an hour and cover many miles of ground. With their powerful legs and wings, they can take 3.5 meter strides through the air, and even when not provoked by other animals or humans, they are often seen running.
Ostriches are located throughout the southern and eastern regions of Africa. Their omnivorous diet allows them to eat plants and smaller animals, but they mostly eat plants. They do not require water like humans do because they derive this moisture from plant matter, and in captivity, they can consume over 3 kg of plants per day. When they reproduce, they lay eggs that weigh as much as 1.5 kg, and these eggs are some of the largest and most prominent in the world.
For centuries, ostriches have been hunted for their large eggs, meat and very large feathers. Their feathers are used for decorations along with fashion accessories. In the past, these birds were found all over most of Africa and in some parts of southern Asia. These days, however, their numbers have been drastically reduced. There was a subspecies of ostrich that roamed near the Syrian desert, but they have become extinct since 1941, but some humans have tried to reintroduce the ostrich populations in the Middle East. Despite these facts, the ostriches are not on the lists of highly endangered species.
3Springbok – 60 mph
Like pronghorns, springbok are very agile with sharp senses. When very agitated, these animals can run up to 60 mph, making them some of the fastest mammals in the world. Springbok get the “spring” in their name because they leapt as high as 9 feet in the air.
Along with their leaps, springbok are recognizable by the soft white fur on their faces and bellies. The rest of their bodies are covered in light reddish brown fur. They are extremely lightweight with an average of 60 to 100 pounds and consume mostly plant foods. During the hot summers, they dine on grasses, but during the dry winters, they look for shrubs.
Springbok are some of the most commonly found types of antelope in southern Africa. They live in dry, open plains where they are hunted by both animals and humans. For humans, they are the most desired species to hunt because of their venison meat.
In a feat called pronking, springbok jump as high as 13 feet in the air. They curve their bodies, stiffen their legs and point their heads down toward the ground. They continue to repeat these series of landings and leaps.
The Springbok used to exist in large numbers in the southern parts of Africa, and they roamed lands covered in bushes, shrubs and grasses. They used to migrate in large herds known as treckbokken, but these treks have discontinued. Extreme hunting practices have reduced the populations significantly, and throughout the late 1800s, the springbok was almost eliminated due to hunting, but the numbers have since been reintroduced. People are continuing to manage the populations effectively, and there is currently not a long-term threat to their survival.
2Pronghorn – 60 mph
In North America, the pronghorns are the fastest mammals to move on land with speeds varying from 35 to 60 mph. These animals evolved their superior running abilities to escape from predators like cheetahs along with coyotes and cougars. Unlike their predators, they can maintain their high speeds for longer periods of time.
Pronghorns have adapted to their conditions, and they have large eyes for easier seeing across large areas. In addition, they have hearts, lungs and tracheas that make it easier to consume colossal amounts of oxygen for long periods of time. Pronghorns also have hooves that have cushions underneath that work as shock absorbers as they run. Their bone structure is light, making them very flexible, and they have minimal hair to reduce profuse sweating. Pronghorns are designed for running, but sometimes they can accomplish amazing jumps, especially under immense pressure.
The Lewis and Clark exploration group were the first ones to find and recognize pronghorns in North America. Today, they are found in specific regions in the U.S., including Yellowstone National Park, along with Canada and northern Mexico. Pronghorns belong to a whole species that is not located anywhere else on the planet.
Pronghorns live in wide, open areas, usually in high elevations, and they are known to migrate for very long distances across North America – up to 150 miles. They eat mostly plants, such as grass and cacti, and their natural curiosity gets them into trouble at times, as this can make them quite easy prey for predators.
1Cheetah – 76 mph
Cheetahs are known for its beautiful spots and fur along with its amazing speed and agility. They are the fastest animals known on land with speeds up to 76 mph. They can go from 0 to 76 mph in just a few seconds. However, they can only maintain this speed for about 1,500 feet. The main reason why cheetahs are so fast is because they have evolved over time to chase animals such as gazelles and antelopes.
Cheetahs try to stalk prey that moves individually or in packs, but the animals are likely to notice the cheetah’s movements and take off running as fast as they can. When this happens, however, the cheetah springs into action, and as they can run faster than their prey, often catch up. Cheetahs mostly live in grassy or open areas like savannas, but sometimes they are found in deserts and mountains.
Over many years, cheetahs have evolved into becoming the earth’s fastest land animals through a series of adaptations. They have large lungs and hearts that are capable of consuming and circulating large amounts of oxygen. Their nostrils are large, their bodies are long and lean and their legs are strong. The tail works like a rudder built on a ship, and the claws are retractable to help the animals run on the ground. Overall, their bodies are more evolved for running than most other land animals.
After they run for very fast distances, however, cheetahs have to cool down from the heat and build up their energy again which can take time. In very hot temperatures, or on very high ground, the situation could become particularly dangerous, allowing them to become prey for other animals.
The Fastest Animals Known in the Wild
There are some animals that are fast and then some that are really fast. Scientists and animal experts have compiled lists to help them find the animals that are the fastest ones on land. Many birds are faster than land mammals, but these two groups cannot be compared. Another obvious fact is that fast mammals vary by size and weight. Some animals are very large and heavy, such as lions and wildebeest, while others are very light and flexible like springbok and hares. Some fast creatures are prey, others are predators and others are combinations of the two. In addition to speed, these animals have other features that help them avoid predators and adapt to their environments, of course. Arctic hares, for instance, have thick fur that allows them to run and hunt in the snow. The springbok have long legs that make it easier to leap high as they run. All of these animals, from African wild dogs to cheetahs have adapted exceptionally well to their environment and have become renowned for their most prized quality — speed.