Our world is home to some pretty incredible species. The diverse animals that make up the natural world are equipped with a broad range of adaptations that enable the species to thrive. One of those adaptations? Speed.
There are a lot of quick animals roaming the Earth. There are fish that can swim unbelievably fast, as well as birds that can swoop in at a startling pace. Avians are actually the fastest animals in the world, sometimes reaching speeds of well over 250 miles per hour. It’s pretty incredible!
When it comes to the fastest mammals on Earth, one clear winner comes to mind: the cheetah. However, you’ll be surprised to know the cheetah actually isn’t the fastest mammal in the world! Discover the top 20 fastest mammals on Earth. You’ll definitely find some surprises!
The zebra is the 20th-fastest mammal on Earth. Its speeds reach somewhere between 35-43 miles per hour.
The onager is a donkey-like mammal with the ability to reach incredible speeds. These creatures can reach between 37-43 miles per hour when running.
The greyhound is the 18th-fastest mammal on Earth and the fastest domestic dog in existence. These dogs have been bred for racing over the course of history, so their speed is incredibly intentional. Greyhounds run at a speed of between 37-44 miles per hour.
While greyhounds have been bred, historically, for the purpose of racing, the Humane Society generally regards greyhound racing as inhumane. The practice is now illegal in almost all of the states in the US.
Interestingly enough, the kangaroo is one of the fastest mammals in the world. These marsupials don’t run like most mammals on this list. Instead, they hop at an astounding pace and distance. This results in kangaroos moving 31-44 miles per hour during a short sprint.
16. African Wild Dog
The African wild dog is a wild canine with the potential for incredible speeds. They’re hunters, and when they kick their pace up to a full sprint, they can reach 44 miles per hour. Generally, their longer speeds are between 35-37 miles per hour.
Small but mighty, the jackrabbit is one of the fastest mammals in the world. They are equipped with strong hind legs that enable them to reach an overall pace of 36-45 miles per hour. Like the kangaroo, jackrabbits don’t run, they leap! They can leap between 10-20 feet in a single hop.
Similar to the jackrabbit, the hare is one of the fastest mammals on Earth. Hares can reach slightly higher speeds than the jackrabbit, with a range of between 35-50 miles per hour. They can’t sustain their top speeds for all that long, but in short bursts, they can move at an astonishing pace!
The first big cat on the top twenty list of fastest mammals on Earth is the lion. Lions are hunters, too, and their speed is one of their greatest assets. Lionesses in particular have been known to reach up to 50 miles per hour during a hunt.
The impala is the first antelope on this list, though there are many more to come. These amazing animals can run between 37-50 miles per hour. They’re slender, making them amazing aerodynamic athletes.
11. Grant’s Gazelle
The Grant’s gazelle is another species of antelope that ranks in the top twenty fastest mammals in the world. These gazelles can reach 40-50 miles per hour at a full sprint. They are a large species of antelope.
The hartebeest is another type of antelope, this time ranking in the top ten fastest mammals in the world. The average running speed of a hartebeest is between 43-50 miles per hour. These antelopes are larger than the impala.
The blackbuck is yet another species of antelope that makes the top ten for the fastest mammals on Earth. These antelopes have regularly been identified to sustain the pace of 50 miles per hour for almost a mile at a time. Blackbucks also have incredibly long strides, sometimes reaching over 20 feet per stride.
The wildebeest is another species of incredible antelope that dominates the list of fastest mammals in the world. These mammals have also logged a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Their speeds are incredibly useful for escaping predators.
7. Thomson’s Gazelle
The Thomson’s gazelle is yet another antelope with absolutely amazing speeds. Thomson’s gazelles are unique due to their long-distance endurance. While they can reach 50 miles per hour in a sprint, their endurance enables them to outrun faster mammals. For example, they can run quickly for longer distances than cheetahs, making it possible to escape the second-fastest mammal on this list!
6. Domestic Horse
Quickly diverging from the antelope category, an equine takes the sixth spot for the fastest mammal on Earth. The domestic horse has been known to reach almost 55 miles per hour at a full-blown sprint. Thoroughbred horses are the fastest of domestic horses, bred specifically for speed.
The fifth-fastest mammal on Earth is another antelope: the tsessebe. The tsessebe can reach a speed of between 43 and 56 miles per hour. These antelopes are very large compared to many other types of antelopes.
The springbok is another species of antelope that ranks in the top five fastest mammals on Earth. These medium-sized antelopes can reach a speed of up to 55 miles per hour.
The pronghorn, also known as the American antelope, is the third-fastest mammal on Earth. It’s also the fastest long-distance animal in the world. These antelopes run at a pace of between 50-60 miles per hour, but they can sustain their top speeds for half a mile or so at a time.
Unsurprisingly, the cheetah ranks as one of the fastest mammals on Earth. While it’s generally thought to be the fastest mammal, it actually takes second place. These big cats can run at a pace of between 60 and 65 miles per hour. However, they’re only capable of short bursts. They often don’t sprint for longer than a minute at a time.
1. Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
The Mexican free-tailed bat takes the first-place spot for the fastest mammal on Earth. These incredible bats can reach 99 miles per hour while flying, making them one of the fastest-flying animals in the world. They are medium-sized bats, generally only 3.5 inches long. While they may be small, they are clearly mighty!
These animals are pretty amazing! From the zebra, to the kangaroo, to the tiny Mexican free-tailed bat, these mammals exhibit some astounding speeds. Big and little, heavy and light, these mammals demonstrate the incredible diversity of the natural world.
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