Fastest Mammal in the World

Fastest Mammal in the World

For short distances, the cheetah or hunting leopard is the fastest animal on feet, but its endurance is not very great. Men have used the creature for hunting gazelles and antelopes, and it usually overhauls even these swift runners with remarkable ease.

But the endurance of some of the gazelles and antelopes at high speed is remarkable, and it is certain that for distances of over a mile or so either the blackbuck of India, the Mongolian gazelle, or the pronghorn antelope of the United States could outdistance any living mammal. The pronghorn antelope is easily the fastest animal in North America.

Some people are apparently quite pleased with man’s running ability as compared to that of other animals but I find it difficult to share this complacency. To prove man’s superiority they cite cases of trained athletes who have beaten horses for a short distance yet what chance would a trained athlete have against a horse without a rider, and how many untrained human beings could outdistance even a draft horse?

The claim that man is one of the fastest of animals is, of course, true, but the statement is somewhat misleading. The comparison includes all species that belong to the animal kingdom, and even the slowest of us could probably outdistance a snail or even such a speedy animal as the earthworm.

But the reference to the following table will show that man at his fastest is quite slow indeed when compared with the really speedy members of the mammalian clan.

SpeciesRunning Speed (miles per hour)Remarks
Cheetah or hunting leopard70This animal has been timed at this speed with a stop. watch.
Black buck65
Mongolian gazelle60These animals can maintain this speed for a mile or so after which they drop to slower speeds.
Pronghorn antelope60When chased by a car, these animals have maintained this speed for 2 miles, and have averaged 36 MPH for 27 miles.
Lion50This speed is possible for only short distances in charges after game.
Deer45A buck deer was timed by automobile at 49 MPH, but one biologist doubts the accuracy of the speed• ometer and indicates that he considers about 30 MPH the maximum for deer.
Race horse45
Jack rabbits (several species)40 to 45
Coyote35 to 45One coyote was timed for a short distance at 43 MPH. This speed seems somewhat excessive, and I do not know whether or not the speedometer was checked for accuracy.
Greyhounds and whippets35 to 40Whippets have been clocked with stop watches at 35.5 MPH and grey-hounds at 36.
Bison32 to 35One of these animals has been timed with a speed-ometer at 32 MPH.
Grizzly bear30 to 35A specimen chased by a car attained 30 MPH.
Rhinoceros25 to 28This speed is possible for only a short distance.
Elephant25One African elephant has been timed with a stop watch at 24 MPH for 120 yards.
Man22 to 25The average speed of 22.2 MPH has been reached for the 220 yard dash, the race in which the highest average speed attained.

The table above lists a few of the fastest mammals for which actual records have been made, or for which we have estimates by competent observers.

The Species are arranged in order of known possible speeds, but when more information is available the order may well have to be rearranged.

Some animals place high in the table because of one or more speed records they have made for short distances. No figures are available for some species, which may be able to run faster for short distances than others that are higher in the table.