Discover the Fastest Animals in Tennessee

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: November 7, 2022
© Harry Collins Photography/
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Tennessee is home to an incredibly diverse range of animals, many of which are among the fastest in the country! From the lowlands to the west or the Appalachians to the east, there are plenty of places for the region’s fastest animals to test out their speed. Today, we are going to explore a few of the top contenders for the fastest animals in Tennessee and see which one is the winner! Let’s get started.

1. Peregrine Falcon – 240 mph

Animals in Kyrgyzstan
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in Tennessee.

©Sally Wallis/

Probably to no surprise, the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in Tennessee. This bird is so fast, in fact, that it’s generally recognized as the fastest animal in the world. There is a bit of a caveat, however, as the top speed of the falcon comes during a controlled dive, so it isn’t actually “propelling” itself to these insane speeds. Still, there isn’t a single animal that really comes close to the insane speeds of this flyer.

The peregrine falcon is the faster animal and bird on our list, and we’ve decided to no include any other birds on the list today. If we did, there probably wouldn’t be any other creatures since legs just can’t compete with the power of wings!

2. Coyote – 43 mph

Coyotes often hunt in packs and are incredibly fast.

©Mircea Costina/

Surprisingly, the coyote holds the spot for the second fastest animal in Tennessee! Coyotes are members of the Canis group and are related to wolves and dogs. These wild canines often hunt in packs and have the power to take down animals significantly larger than them! There are two speeds to note when it comes to coyotes. The first is their top speed. At their very fastest, coyotes have been clocked at around 43 mph, although this speed can’t be held for very long. When pursuing prey, however, they can hold a formidable 35 mph for extended periods of time.

2. Elk – 40 mph

Elk Calling
Despite their large size, elk can keep a speed of 40 mph.

©Cornelius Doppes/

Historically, elk were native to most of the state of Tennessee. Once colonial settlers came through the area, however, the populations were totally wiped out. Although it’s sad, they were recently reintroduced into the Appalachian Mountains along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Now there is a stable and thriving population of elk that live in the region. Elk are the second largest species of deer in North America, only behind the moose. They are able to keep a sustained speed of 40 mph, making them some of the best distance runners on the list.

3: White-tailed Deer – 35 mph

white tail deer fawn
Whitetail deer can run very fast.


Like the elk, white-tailed deer also belong to the deer family. Deer, as a general rule, are great runners. White-tailed deer are known for their bursts of speed and can run for long distances without stopping. At top speed, a white-tailed deer is known to clear around 35 mph when running, especially when it’s away from predators. Even more, a white-tailed deer is known to jump 7 feet in the air and at least 25 feet horizontally. If you’ve ever seen a deer jump clear across a two-lane street you know just how true it is!

4. Black Bear – 30 mph

black bear
Black bears can sprint for short distances.

© Fuller Photography

The black bear is the largest predator in Tennessee, even though it spends most of its time scavenging and not hunting. Even though they are the largest predators in the state (usually around 125-600 lbs, depending on the time of year), they are pretty fast. A black bear can sprint for short distances at around 30 mph. If a bear is chasing you, you probably aren’t going to be outrunning it anytime soon!

5. Bobcat – 30 mph

Bobcats have a speed of up to 30 mph.


The bobcat is the largest feline with a native range in Tennessee since cougars don’t have a native population in the state. Like most cats, the bobcat is extremely nimble and fast. Although cats don’t normally run in an outright sprint for very long, the bobcat is able to reach speeds of 30 mph when it needs to.

6: Gray and red Fox – 28 mph

Mysterious Gray Animals - Gray Fox
Gray and red foxes can run at a speed of up to 28 mph.


There are two species of fox in Tennessee, the gray and the red fox. Both are nearly identical in their speed, depending on the source. Generally, it’s understood that these animals can run around 28 mph while hunting or traveling. If there was going to be a winner, it would likely be the gray fox as it’s a bit larger and probably has a larger gait, allowing it to gallop faster.

7. Eastern Cottontail – 18 mph

Rabbits can be impossible to catch.


Much to the delight of foxes and bobcats, the eastern cottontail is number 7 on the list. Rabbits can run around 18 mph, which is slower than both of the predators that eat them. Still, rabbits may not be incredibly fast, but they are extremely nimble. Instead of running quickly in a single direction, rabbits zigzag, making it nearly impossible to catch them in the open, even by a faster predator.

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About the Author

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn't distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he's recently learned. There's a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

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