Discover the Fastest Animals in New Mexico

Written by Niccoy Walker
Published: November 21, 2022
© Holly Kuchera/
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In North America, pronghorns are the fastest animals on land at 61 miles per hour, peregrine falcons dominate the skies at 240 mph, and sailfish conquer the sea at 68 mph. Due to their abundance in most US states, this list focuses on New Mexico’s unique animal diversity. This southwestern state has an incredible biome with several distinct ecosystems, such as forests, plains, deserts, and marshes. Let’s look at the extraordinary creatures within the state’s boundaries to discover the fastest animals in New Mexico.

1. Cooper’s Hawk – 50 mph

Cooper's hawk closeup in profile
Cooper’s hawks have a cruising speed of 50 mph.

©Julie rubacha/

The Cooper’s hawk is a medium-sized raptor native to North America and a year-round resident throughout most of New Mexico. It is one of the most common hawks in the state and can often be found in urban parks and backyards. Birds of prey are known for their fast speeds, and Cooper’s hawk is no exception. It has a cruising speed of 50 miles per hour but can most likely reach higher rates when swooping for its prey. However, their max speed is difficult to calculate because they hunt for animals while flying through dense vegetation. These hawks like to wait and watch for their prey from a perch, then quickly swoop down and grasp it.

2. Mule Deer – 45 mph

mule deer
The speed of mule deer is useful in outrunning predators.


Mule deer are endemic to western North America, and two subspecies reside in New Mexico: the Rocky Mountain mule deer and the desert mule deer. The Rocky Mountain subspecies inhabit the northern part of the state, and the desert mule deer are in the southern. Unlike most deer, mule deer are stocky with sturdy legs and spring into the air when they begin running. This species can reach up to 45 miles per hour for short periods, typically when spooked, and must flee danger. This speedy trait allows them to outrun predators, including humans. 

3. White-Sided Jackrabbit – 40 mph

jackrabbit sitting by tree
White-sided jackrabbits are endangered species in New Mexico.

©Ingrid Curry/

The white-sided jackrabbit, also known as the Mexican hare, is endemic to a small range in North America, from southern New Mexico down to central Mexico. You will primarily find them in the grassy plains in the extreme southwestern portions of the state. However, these jackrabbits are an endangered species and difficult to find. This species is highly agile, leaping ten feet above objects rather than running around them. They can also run up to 40 miles per hour, leaping high every fourth or fifth jump to check their surroundings. They typically reach their max speeds when running away from predators.

4. New Mexico Black Bear – 30 mph

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
You can find black bears in New Mexico’s mountains and forests.

©Holly Kuchera/

Black bears are the state animal of New Mexico, inhabiting the state’s mountainous regions with grassy meadows. There are around 6,000 black bears spread throughout 13% of the state’s regions. This bear species can often be seen in varying shades from jet black to cinnamon, and they typically spend their days slowly shuffling through their forest habitats. But they can also rapidly move when required, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour. They may take off when scared or fleeing danger or to catch anything that gets too close to their cubs. Black bears will most likely run away when near a human. But you should remember that bears can run much faster than the average human, so it’s best to back away slowly or prepare to fight back.

5. Chaparral Bird – 26 mph

What Do Roadrunners Eat?
Roadrunners eat small mammals, lizards, and snakes.


Chaparral birds, or roadrunners, are fast-running ground cuckoos found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. They became New Mexico’s official state bird in 1949 and are most often seen running beside the road throughout most of the state. These fascinating birds rely on their quick foot speed rather than flight for travel. They can run up to 26 miles per hour and fly short distances, typically when evading predators. Roadrunners have long, slender legs that allow them to cover a relatively great length in a short amount of time. They often use their speed to pursue prey such as small rodents, reptiles, and insects.

6. Peccary – 22 mph

Collared Peccary in Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas
You can find peccary in the southwestern part of New Mexico.

©Dennis W Donohue/

The peccary is a medium-sized pig-like mammal native to North America, from the southwestern United States down to South America. They are known as javelina in New Mexico and have been part of the state’s landscape for a long time. You can find scattered peccary herds in the extreme southwestern parts of the state. These creatures don’t look particularly graceful, but they can sprint up to 22 miles per hour, faster than the average human. They typically reach their max speed when they get scared or fleeing a predator. 

7. Arizona Bark Scorpion – 12 mph

Arizona bark scorpion crawling down a tree
The Arizona bark scorpion can reach impressive speed for its size.

©Ernie Cooper/

This small scorpion is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, where it lives in the Sonoran Desert. This species inhabits the southwest corner of New Mexico and is the only species in the state that causes severe illness. These little deadly predators may not move as fast as other animals in this list, but they can reach impressive speeds for their size. The bark scorpion runs up to 12 miles per hour when targeting its prey, a little faster than a light human jog. 

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Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Black bears are omnivorous, meaning they can feed on a wide range of plant and animal matter.
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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the Triangle area and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

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