Discover the Fastest Animals in Virginia

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: January 23, 2023
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Virginia is a southeastern state with a unique landscape, from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. It is a deciduous temperate forest biome that supports diverse plant and animal life, with over 10,000 species.

Among its members are some genuinely swift creatures distinctive to their environment. Discover the fastest animals in Virginia, including where you can find them and what makes them so speedy.

Fastest Animal in Virginia: The Virginia Big-Eared Bat

The big-eared bat is an endangered species native to the southeastern United States, including Virginia. They inhabit mountainous cave systems and are extremely large for a bat. They also have huge ears and live up to their name! Bats are fast fliers and swoop out of their caves at the first sign of disturbance or danger. This species’ flight has not been recorded, but the average bat can fly around 60 miles per hour, some even reaching 100 mph. These creatures have jointed wings and flexible skin membranes that allow them to maneuver with less drag.

Black-Tailed Jackrabbits

The black-tailed jackrabbit is a desert hare native to the western United States and Mexico. It is an introduced species to Virginia and has adapted to living on dunes and beach grass instead of its natural desert habitat. These big-eared rabbits can run up to 30 miles per hour and leap a distance of 20 feet. They rarely walk, and their cruising speed alone can clear 10 feet in one bound. Jackrabbits have powerful legs that propel them forward, and they must be speedy to outrun swift prey like coyotes and hawks. 

The Fastest Animals in Virginia: The Cardinal

Northern Cardinal in flight
Cardinals have a cruising rate between 20 and 30 miles per hour.

©Rob Palmer Photography/

Cardinals are abundant in the southeast and are the state bird for seven states, including Virginia. These birds are plentiful in the northern part of the state and live in meadows, woodlands, and gardens. Their max speed is still unknown, but their cruising rate is between 20 and 30 miles per hour. They prefer to hop on the ground when foraging, but you can also see them flitting from bushes and trees. This species also uses its speed to fly away from predators.

Blue Catfish

The Blue catfish is one of the fastest animals in Virginia.
The Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus).

©Billy Ogle/Flickr – License

Blue catfish are the largest North American species in coastal and inland waters. You can find them in many rivers across Virginia. In some waters, like the Chesapeake Bay, they are considered an invasive species. These fish spend most of their lives slowly swimming across river bottoms, but they are capable of quick bursts of speed, reaching at least 15 miles per hour. Their speed varies based on their mood and activity, but their average speed hovers around 1.5 mph. They typically only accelerate to these rates when they are startled and need to escape danger.

American Foxhound

American foxhounds are scent dogs bred to hunt foxes and originated in Maryland and Virginia. These hounds developed from cross-breeding several hound species from Europe and were designed purely for hunting. They became Virginia’s state dog in 1966. American foxhounds are known for their speed and endurance, running up to 38 miles per hour. And they are energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise and training to reach these max rates. But their sleek, streamlined bodies make it easy for them to achieve intense speeds.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The tiger swallowtail is a butterfly native to the eastern United States and is the state insect of Virginia. It is one of the largest butterflies in the state, commonly found in deciduous woodlands, parks, and backyards. These insects can fly at altitudes up to 20,000 feet and reach speeds between five and 12 miles per hour by flapping their wings 300 times per minute. A butterflies wings act as a rudder; the more extensive the wings, the faster it flies. And swallowtails are renowned for their large, brightly colored wings. Virginia also has other speedy insects, like dragonflies, which can fly as fast as 35 miles per hour!


Raccoons are not the fastest animals in Virginia, but they can move with a lot of agility when needed.
Raccoons are not exceptionally fast, but they can move swiftly for a small animal, reaching up to 15 miles per hour.


Raccoons are small mammals native to North America and found throughout Virginia. They live close to a water source in parks, forests, and cities and are more common in upland hardwoods. Raccoons are not exceptionally fast, but they can move swiftly for a small animal, reaching up to 15 miles per hour. Most humans can outrun them, but it might be a close race when they reach their max speed! You typically see them slowly scurrying around, but they can swiftly take off if they sense danger. They are also excellent climbers, using their strong claws to scamper up trees, and descend head first.  

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Discover the fastest animals in Virginia, including where you can find them and what makes them so speedy.

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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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