Rhino Speed: Just How Fast Can Rhinos Run Anyway?

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: February 27, 2022
© Chris Twine/Shutterstock.com
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Just by looking at a rhino, you wouldn’t think they could run, maybe a slow waddle, but not a run! However, rhinos can actually move pretty fast. They have short legs that don’t look large enough to support their enormous bodies, but somehow the weight is appropriately distributed, and the strong muscles of their back legs are strong enough to support the weight and propel the rhinos forward. Black rhinos are even good at stopping and pivoting, much quicker than you would think. Let’s take a look at why a rhino would run and how fast they can go!

What are five reasons a rhino might run?

White Rhino Running - Charging White Rhino
Rhinos may run to escape predators or charge at them!

©bekirevren/Shutterstock.com

If you think about an elephant slowly sauntering through the savanna you might imagine that rhinos move in the same way, but rhinos are actually known to move with more of a steady trot to get around. They are even capable of clocking some good speeds. But why would a rhino need to run?

1. Escape a predator: Adult rhinos do not have any natural predators but there are times when lions or tigers may approach and create a threat. The rhino has a choice to fight or flight. If it seems the best course they can turn quickly and take off to avoid one of these large cats.

2. Charge at a predator: Rhinos can be quite aggressive so they may stand their ground when a predator creates a threat and they may also charge at a lion, tiger, or crocodile, with their head down and mighty horn ready.

3. Protect their territory: The most common intruder is other rhinos. They are very territorial and they want to make sure they express their dominance. So if another rhino comes into their area they will chase them away. Some of these chases can last up to a mile or more!

4. During mating rituals: The female rhinos may decide which male they want to pursue and begin to chase one. They may chase each other for a while, stop and wrestle or fight and continue to chase each other. This can go on for hours before mating eventually occurs. Perhaps it is a way of determining the fitness of the mate as a way of figuring out which ones are more suitable for passing on their genes.

Rhino baby - running calf
Baby rhinos can run at a young age.

©Corrie Barnard/Shutterstock.com

5. Young rhinos run and play: Videos of young rhinos playing and running are comical as they seem to be learning how to control their large, growing bodies. The young rhinos are learning socialization as well as keeping fit for getting ready to be out on their own. Rhino young stay with their mothers for two to three years, but the males will eventually go off on their own and lead a pretty solitary life.

How fast are rhinos? The speed of each species

Black rhino running
Black rhinos are the fastest rhino species and can run 34 miles per hour.

©Anya Newrcha/Shutterstock.com

The short answer is that rhinos can run up to 34 miles per hour. The speed is from a black rhino, a species that was once widespread across African savannas. However, different rhinos species each have varying top speeds. Rhinos like the Sumatran that live in dense vegetation have less need for bursts of speed to flee predators or charge, as such they don’t require the same bursts as black rhinos. Let’s look at the speed of different rhino species individually.

Black rhinos

These rhinos are a bit smaller than white rhinos and a bit quicker as well. They can reach speeds as fast as 55kph (34mph). If you thought you could outrun a rhino you would be wrong. The fastest human, Usain Bolt topped out at 27mph and most people can only run around 6-10mph, especially long distances.

White rhinos

White rhinos are the largest rhinos with some getting to be nearly 8,000lbs, but they can still run pretty fast. They can run 40-50kph (31mph). Can you imagine the impact of an 8,000lb rhino (with a horn) ramming into your jeep? Powerful!

Greater one-horned (Indian) rhinos

These are one of the Asian rhinos and are a bit smaller than the African rhinos, but they are quick as well. Indian rhinos have been recorded to reach speeds of 40kph (25mph).

Sumatran rhinos

These rhinos are Critically Endangered with less than a hundred remaining and are only located on two islands in Indonesia. They are similar in speed to the Great one-horned rhinos and can also reach speeds of 40kph (25mph).

Can rhinos jump?

Some say that elephants are the only animal that can’t jump, but others chime in about the hippo, rhino and sloth. There is clear evidence that elephants can’t jump, but rhinos are a little different. While they probably can’t jump how we traditionally think of it, they do end up with all four legs in the air when they run. And young rhinos when they play can get all four legs off the ground. So, no they probably couldn’t compete in a standing long jump, but they also don’t always have at least one foot on the ground like an elephant.


The Featured Image

How Fast Do Rhino Run - Charging Rhino
© Chris Twine/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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