Look Quick: Gallery of the Fastest Beasts on Land

Speedy Mammals

captive cheetah running in South Africa

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Whether to high-tail it from predators or to run down the day's meaty snack, these beasts are the fastest land animals around. Check them out before they're gone.



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Like wolves, coyotes (Canis latrans)howl and use scent marking to determine their territory, though they live alone or in pairs, not in social groups like wolves. They can be found in Canada, Mexico and throughout the United States, including upstate New York. Coyotes normally run at speeds of 25 to 30 miles an hour (40 to 48 kilometers per hour), but they can run at up to 43 mph (69 kph) when pursued.

Brown Hare

Brown Hare

(Image credit: Simon Richardson)

The long and powerful hind legs of the brown hare (Lepus capensis) allow it to run at speeds of 45 mph (72 kph). Widespread over Europe, Asia and Africa, the brown hare lives aboveground and does not build burrows in the ground like most rabbits.

Cape Hunting Dog

cape hunting dog

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Found only in Africa, the cape hunting dog (Lycaon pictus) is also known as the African hunting dog and the painted hunting dog because of the unusual black spatters of spotting on its tawny coat. The wild dogs can run at speeds of up to 45 mph (72 kph).

Grant's Gazelle

Grant's gazelle

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Also found only in Africa, the Grant's gazelle (Nanger granti)has a tan coat with a horizontal black strip and a white belly. This gazelle has long, dark horns that are pointy and only slightly curved. It can run as fast as47 mph (76 kph).

Thomson's Gazelle

Thomson's gazelle

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The Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) looks similar to Grant's Gazelle, but is noticeably smaller and has a white patch on its rump that extends beyond its tail onto its back. The animal can reach speeds of 50 mph (80 kph) and roams about the open, grassy plains of Africa.


lion running

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The king of the jungle can charge at speeds of more than 50mph (80 mph) — but only over short distances. That's why lions sneak up on their prey as a group, carefully closing in on the animal from various angles, before quickly running in to attack.

Blue Wildebeest

blue wildebeest

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The blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), a large antelope, can be found in the plains and woods of Southern and East Africa. The blue wildebeest gets its name from the silvery blue sheen of its hide, and it has shaggy tufts of hair on its head and down its back. It's capable of reaching speeds of 50 mph (80 kph).



(Image credit: Johannes Gerhardus Swanepoel | Dreamstime)

The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis), or antelope, also looks similar to the Grant's Gazelle, with a light brown coat, black horizontal stripe, white belly and sharp, ringed horns. It can run up to 53 mph (85 kph) and can leap up to about 13 feet (4 meters) in the air.



(Image credit: Steve Hillebrand | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

With its slightly hooked horns, caramel-colored coat and white underside, the pronghorn closely resembles an antelope. Dwelling in Southern Africa, it grazes upon the grasses and shrubbery near rocky hillsides or semi-desert plains. To escape from predators, the pronghorn gallops at up to 57 mph (95 kph).


cheetah running

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The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), a member of the feline family, lives primarily in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The cheetah clocks in at an impressive, chart-topping speed of 71mph (114 kph). It can sprint at these speeds over short distances. Since they run so fast, cheetahs take about 30 minutes to catch their breath after a chase before they can begin eating their catch.

Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.