Top 10 Fastest Land Animals

So do you think you're pretty fast? What if you were out in the wild and saw a big, bulky elk in the distance. Think you could outrun it? Well you may underestimate the mighty elk. The fastest speed a human has been clocked at is right at 27 mph. Pretty impressive, but when it comes to the full animal kingdom you might be surprised how slow we are. 

10. Gray Fox - 42 mph

GrayFox - 42 mph

You can find they gray fox on his own as a solitary hunter in eastern and western United States. It prefers voles, shrews and birds in the east and jackrabbit and brush rabbit in the west. They will use it's short speed bursts to catch these small animals. 

9. Coyote - 43 mph


This speedy carnivore has an appetite of small mammals. Due to their  frequent proximity to humans, they have been known to hop fences and track down domestic dogs and cats.  Although they have roughly the same top speed as the gray wold, they are actually a primary predator of the wolf. They population of the coyote in Yellowstone National Park was dramatically reduced when the gray wolf was reintroduced in the mid 90's. 

8. Cape Hunting Dog - 45 mph

Cape Hunting Dog

Also known as Lycaon Pictus and Painted Dog, the cape hunting dog is only found in Africa.  Top speed aside, the cape hunting dog is known as a distance runner. They travel in packs and vocally communicate until they run their prey down. 80% of their chases end in a kill. Compare that to 30% for the mighty lion. 

7. Elk - 45 mph


In the animal kingdom there are predators and then there are they prey. In order to survive as a species the prey must be as fast and sometimes faster than their pursuers. Here is the first example of speedy prey. They elk has the anatomy of your common cow (4 chamber stomach) and are primarily grazers. But they are always on watch for wolves and coyotes. When the chase is on they can reach similar speeds to these carnivores, so they rely on the power of the herd and their speed to help them survive. 

6. Quarterhorse - 47.5 mph


It has been  some time since the horse species was mainly seen in the wild. The quarter horse has been used for transportation and sport for hundreds of years. From charging the enemy in the Civil War to the spectacle of the Kentucky derby; the quarter horses' speed will continue to be utilized by the human species for years to come. 

5. Thompsons Gazelle - 50 mph

Thompsons Gazelle - 50 mph

The Thompson's gazelle is a migrating herbivore who follow's the short grass of Africa. Their main predator is the cheetah, who is faster, but the gazelle can last longer in a long distance chase and are more skilled at making turns. 

4. Lion - 50mph


Like most members of the feline family, the lion is capable of incredible bursts of speed when on a hunt. However, these bursts are short-lived. The lions heart consists of only .45 - .57 percent of its body weight. This means it has very low stamina and must rely on its stealth-like hunting techniques to sneak up on its prey. 

3. Wildebeest - 50 mph


One could say the wildebeest has mastered the art of defense. They are known for their great migrations following the rainfalls of Africa. They travel in great numbers and recent studies have shown they possess "swarm intelligence" where they can coordinate and act as one while being pursued by lions, hyena and cheetah. 

2. Pronghorn Antelope - 61 mph


The incredibly fast North American pronghorn antelope is known as the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere.  Their incredible speed, like other herbivores on this list, is built to out run and outlast its predators. The interesting difference with this antelope is that its main predator, the American cheetah, has long since extinct. 

1. Cheetah - 70 mph


The cheetah is the corvette of the animal kingdom; built for speed but not practical for a long trip. The cheetah hunts based on vision, not scent, and therefore hunts during the day. In a short burst they will reach speeds over 70 mph, but it won't last long. Upon acceleration, their body temperature elevates quickly. They must trip up their prey, and quickly bite the underside of their throat to choke it. The cheetah prefers fast food as they are not strong enough to fight off larger predators who come across their catch.