How Fast Are Squirrels? Top Speed and How It Compares to Other Rodents

Squirrel runs, jumps by the fence.
© irishka5/

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Published: November 19, 2023

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Most people typically see squirrels running around a public park or sneaking around bird feeders in their yards. These adorable rodents are incredible climbers and can be quick on their feet. 

In fact, most species of squirrels can run up to 20 miles per hour! They can hold this speed for up to four miles! They have small, yet powerful legs that can help them outrun a variety of wild animals. 

Squirrels can use their speed to catch prey and explore their natural environment. 

Why Are Squirrels So Fast?

American red squirrel in action

There are over 200 species of squirrels in the world.

©Mircea Costina/

20 miles an hour is wildly quick for such a petite animal. There are many factors that play a role in how fast squirrels can run. For example, grass has high friction, allowing these rodents to get to greater speeds.

Smooth surfaces such as roadways and parking lots can cause them to move slower. As you can assume, their size plays a part too. The larger the squirrel, the faster they can move! The one situation where they may need to reach high speeds is when attempting to outrun a predator. 

Foxes and coyotes can easily catch up with a squirrel. Predatory birds and raccoons may have a harder time keeping up. If you’ve ever watched a squirrel hunt for food, you’ll notice they’re always looking around.

Because a lot of their predators are faster and larger than them, squirrels have to collect seeds, nuts, and mushrooms swiftly. Out of all the squirrels, the eastern gray squirrel is the quickest topping out at just over 20 miles per hour! 

Rodent Speed Comparison Chart

Mother black tailed prairie dog sounding alarm as baby watches and learns in the Texas Panhandle

Prairie dogs are one of the fastest rodents on Earth!

©Warren Price Photography/

There are some impressively speedy rodents in the world. While some can only reach top speeds of two miles per hour, others are shockingly quick! Here are some of the fastest rodents in the world! 

RankAnimalTop Speed
1Prairie dog 35 miles per hour 
2.Patagonian mara 25 miles per hour 
3.Capybara22 miles per hour 
4.Chipmunk 21 miles per hour 
5.Squirrel20 miles per hour 
6.Elephant shrew18 miles per hour 
7.Chinchilla15 miles per hour
8.Rat8 miles per hour 
9.Mouse8 miles per hour 
10.Guinea pig 6 miles per hour 

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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