Kansas is a landlocked state in the midwest best known for twisters, rolling tall grass prairies, and miles upon miles of natural beauty. Its extensive prairies are home to many animals who love roaming these wide open spaces. Two of the speediest animals on earth call Kansas their home: the peregrine falcon (240 mph) and the pronghorn (60 mph). However, many states contain these species. So for the sake of redundancy, we have left them out. This list includes fast animals unique to the state’s ecosystem; discover the fastest animals in Kansas.
1. Prairie Chicken – 50 mph
Prairie chickens are quirky birds native to North America. This grouse species is becoming exceedingly rare due to habitat loss. It needs extensive prairie to survive and resides primarily on the Great Plains, making Kansas the perfect destination. Prairie chickens fly long distances between their roosting and feeding sites, reaching 50 miles per hour. But they spend much time on the ground, foraging for food and performing elaborate mating rituals. Males perform special dances for females to impress them with their vigor.
2. Great Horned Owl – 40 mph
The great horned owl is a large species with a wide range in North and South America. It lives year-round in Kansas and is relatively common across the state, where it resides in woodlots, open country, and streamsides. The great horned owls are the fastest owl species, capable of reaching up to 40 miles per hour. Their silent flight at these intense speeds makes them even more remarkable. They are graceful and swift creatures who dive at their prey from a perch. Their preferred game includes speedy animals like rabbits and hawks, so they must be able to keep up and, preferably, outrun their meals.
3. Bison – 35 mph
The American bison, or plains bison, are large bovines endemic to North America. Kansas has the nation’s fifth-largest bison population and named them their state animal. While they once freely roamed the state, they only reside on ranches and state parks today. Despite their massive sizes, they are agile creatures that can run up to 35 miles per hour. Bison can also pivot quickly while in pursuit of prey and jump six feet vertically, easily clearing tall fences. And if you ever wondered if humans can outrun a bison, the answer is no. The average human typically runs at eight miles per hour.
4. Bobcat – 30 mph
Bobcats are medium-sized wild cats native to North America, and their range extends from Canada down to Mexico. They are found throughout Kansas, with high densities in the southeast, where they inhabit forests, riparian woodlands, and canyons. These cats are skillful, agile, patient hunters, waiting and stalking their prey for up to seven miles. When necessary, bobcats climb trees, pounce, and chase after their meals up to 30 miles per hour. However, they only reach their max speed for short bursts and rely primarily on leisurely walks around their habitat. This species is a silent stalker, carefully placing its back feet where its front feet were as not to make any noise. When ready, they give a spring-loaded attack, sprinting faster than Olympic runners.
5. Sheep – 25 mph
Domestic sheep are common livestock found throughout the world, and Kansas is home to many sheep and other livestock species. There are over 65,000 sheep in the state, and they reside primarily on private and industry farms. Most people don’t typically think of sheep as being particularly fast, and for the most part, they’re right. But they can run up to 25 miles per hour, faster than the average human! Rams (male sheep), especially, can reach these speeds when they sprint and use their horns to “ram” other males to display dominance. Most prey animals, like sheep, must have certain features that give them a fighting chance.
6. Western Meadowlark – 25 mph
The western meadowlark is a medium-sized bird native to western and central North America. Schoolchildren elected this yellow and grey bird to be the Kansas state bird in 1925, and today you can find them in grasslands, pastures, meadows, and prairies. Meadowlarks are migratory, forming flocks and flying to their winter homes at an estimated 25 miles per hour. Most birds fly at a cruising speed of around 20 mph, so this unique species falls within normal limits (still faster than many animals). Bird speeds have varying factors, like wind and gravity, combined with their body shapes determining their max rates.
7. Eastern Fox Squirrel – 20 mph
The fox squirrel is the largest tree squirrel species native to North America, inhabiting open woodlands with scattered trees. You can find this squirrel throughout most of the state, especially oak-hickory groves in the east and riparian environments in central and west Kansas. Fox squirrels are spry and energetic, running up to 20 miles per hour on the ground and leaping up to eight feet. They typically use trees to escape predators, quickly hopping between branches, outrunning, and outmaneuvering many animals.
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