Discover the 9 Fastest Reptiles in the World

Written by Kayeleen Parsons
Updated: November 12, 2023
Share on:


The animal kingdom is home to a range of creatures, each uniquely adapted to move swiftly in their respective environments. While the cheetah’s incredible bursts of speed and the peregrine falcon’s mesmerizing aerial dives often steal the spotlight, reptiles also have their group of fast individuals. Because reptiles are typically known for their deliberate movement, it may surprise you to hear some reptiles break this stereotype. Moreover, they evolved to become among the fastest reptiles in the world.

1.    Black Mamba

juvenile black mamba on a tree branch

Black mambas grow quickly and, within 1 year of hatching, can reach 6 feet in length.


The black mamba is unquestionably one of the deadliest snakes living in the surrounding areas of Africa. Its fangs hold a killer venom where just two drops of venom can kill an adult human. These snakes are able to grow at great lengths of 14.8ft and slither at incredibly fast speeds of approximately 12.5 miles per hour.

2.    Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragon at Disney's Animal Kingdom

While they may look lazy, the Komodo dragon is anything but and can go after prey at over 10 miles per hour.

©David R. Tribble / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The Komodo dragon is known for its large size and intimidating appearance. These creatures inhabit Komodo Island, Flores, Rintja, and Padar in Indonesia. Some dragons reach lengths of up to 10 feet and weigh as much as 150 pounds. Komodo dragons rely on its quick running speeds of 10 to 13 miles per hour when striking prey with its venomous, bacterial mouth.

3.    Six-lined Racerunner

Six-lined racerunner lizard macro portrait

Racerunners can achieve speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.

©Mike Wilhelm/

Racerunner lizards, commonly spotted in North America, are renowned for their speed and agility. These reptiles typically measure around 6 to 9 inches in length and feature bright stripes along their bodies. Its muscular limbs and pointed toes are responsible for its nimble movement. Nevertheless. regarding them as the quickest lizard species. Furthermore, racerunners can achieve speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.

4.    Bearded Dragon

pet bearded dragon

A pet bearded dragon makes a great family addition but can move shockingly fast.

©John O’Neill / Creative Commons

The Bearded dragon’s name represents spiky scales that are situated on its throat, which puffs up, resembling a beard. Bearded dragons have a friendly temperament, making them great companions for reptile lovers. Living as omnivorous creatures, its diet includes insects and a variety of plant matter. In addition to this, these reptiles swiftly move among savannas and deserts at speeds of 25 miles per hour.

5.    Freshwater Crocodile

alligator fight

Crocodiles are one of the world’s fiercest predators, and they are also one of the fastest reptiles.


Freshwater crocodiles refer to smaller species of crocodile found in Northern Australia. These crocodiles swim about freshwater environments, including rivers and streams. Additionally, the croc’s slim, elongated body provides speeds of 12.4 miles per hour, which is well-suited for navigating in these habitats. Don’t be fooled by its size, as its jaw locks tightly, delivering an unsightly wound.

6.    Leatherback Turtle

leather-back sea turtle

These turtles have a slow metabolism, so they don’t use a lot of oxygen when swimming.


The leatherback sea turtle lives in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Despite carrying a heavy body weight, these turtles can easily glide through water at 22 miles per hour. Therefore, they are indeed much faster than the average speed of other turtles. Moreover, leatherback sea turtles can handle long-distance traveling. In particular, because they have a slow metabolism, they don’t use a lot of oxygen when swimming.

7.    Perentie

Perentie lizard

The perentie lizard is the largest

monitor lizard

in Australia.


Perenties are the largest lizards to inhabit Australia. In fact, they are ranked the fourth largest lizard in the world, traveling at speeds of 20 miles per hour. The perentie’s anatomy consists of an elastic neck when sprinting around, and its throat expands to accommodate increased airflow. Therefore, with each breath, they are able to run faster while they escape dangerous predators.

8.    Green Iguana

Exotic Pet Ownership Green Iguana

Iguanas are considered an invasive species in their tropical environments.

©David A Litman/

Green iguanas reside in various areas of South and Central America. When exploring its environment, they camouflage themselves, changing its bright green color to shades of red, orange, and blue. Also, they enjoy lying around during the day and relaxing in the sun, which helps them regulate their body temperature. Furthermore, being strong climbers, they are able to reach high tree tops, catching their favorite snacks, which include leaves, fruit, and flowers. They can run up to 9 to 12 miles per hour, with other iguana species reaching up to 25 miles per hour.

9.    Alligator

American Alligator, alligator mississipiensis, Adult with Open Mouth Regulating Body Temperature


keep their mouths open to regulate their body temperature.

©slowmotiongli/iStock via Getty Images

Alligators are covered in bony plates, which make up their heavy armored body. These carnivorous reptiles showcase impressive speeds of 25 miles per hour. However, its short legs and long tails work against them when running on land. Hence, the reason is that they run with short bursts on the ground, and in water, they act as an aquatic locomotive.

Top 9 Speed Rankings from Lowest to Highest

AnimalScientific nameSpeedWhere
Green IguanaIguana iguana9-12 miles per hourLand
Komodo DragonVaranus komodoensis10-13 miles per hourLand
Freshwater CrocodileCrocodylus johnsoni12.4 miles per hourLand
Black MambaDendroaspis polylepis12.5 miles per hourLand
Six-lined RacerunnerAspidoscelis sexlineata18 miles per hourLand
PerentieVaranus giganteus20 miles per hourLand
Leatherback TurtleDermochelys coriacea22 miles per hourWater
Bearded DragonPogona Vitticeps25 miles per hourLand
AlligatorAlligator Mississippians25 miles per hourWater

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Laura Jonker/

Share on:
About the Author

Kayeleen Parsons is a writer at A-Z Animals that thoroughly enjoys writing about animals of all types. She has a love for many animals, but her Cocker Spaniel dog holds a special place in her heart. In addition to being a writer, she's also an English teacher, sharing her knowledge to help her students become excellent in the language and literature. When she's not busy writing, Kayeleen enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family in her homeland of Cape Town.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.