Written by Katrina

Modified & Updated: 30 Dec 2023

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

fastest animal in the world

Most people know the cheetah to be the fastest animal in the world. There’s some truth to that, but it isn’t exactly the complete picture. Actually, the cheetah is the fastest animal in the world, but only on land. There is no shortage of fast animals in the great big world. In fact, there are plenty of contenders in the animal kingdom.

To gauge how fast these animals are, you’ll likely want to know just how fast the fastest human is. The fastest human speed recorded is by Usain Bolt, a retired sprinter from Jamaica. In 2009, Bolt competed in the World Championships in Berlin. There, he ran an impressive record of 27.78 mph. This sprint speed rivals even the fastest runners in the animal kingdom. Of course, not everyone can run as fast as this Olympic champion. In reality, the average human speed is around 26 mph.

The average human speed is faster than different types of animals. However, there are still plenty of fast runners, swimmers, and flyers in the wild. Only one can truly be the fastest animal in the world. If you’re curious to know what other kinds of animals can give the cheetah a run for its money, then read on to find out the fastest animal in the world!

Table of Contents

Komodo Dragon

komodo dragon
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 12 mph

The Komodo dragon, or “Komodo monitor,” is the heaviest lizard on Earth. The Komodo dragon’s size ranges up to 10 ft, and they weigh up to 150 lbs. These carnivorous reptiles can live up to 30 years. You can find the Komodo dragon on some islands in Indonesia.

Their speed and long jaws allow them to easily catch their prey. In fact, Komodo dragons are apex predators. They also excrete venom from glands in their lower jaws to poison their prey.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 25 mph

These adorable creatures are native to Australia. Despite being short-legged, wombats are incredibly fast. They only weigh around 32 to 80 lbs. Furthermore, wombats adapt well in the wilderness. They live in forests, mountains, and heaths, where there are plenty of predators. Thankfully, as one of the fastest animals in the world, they can make quick escapes.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 40 mph

It comes as no surprise that the hyena is one of the fastest animals in the world. Hyenas, or “hyaenas,” are carnivores found in Africa. They weigh around 110 to 190 lbs, and they range from 34 to 59 in. Hyenas have sharp claws, but they use their teeth to catch their prey.

An interesting fact about hyenas is that people often associate them with witchcraft. Some people believe hyenas can influence people’s spirits. This is most likely why hyenas are often portrayed as untrustworthy creatures.

African Wild Dog

african wild dog
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 44 mph

The African wild dog is not only one of the fastest animals in the world. It is also one of the world’s most endangered mammals. African wild dogs weigh around 40 – 70 lb. They are also the largest wild canine in Africa, measuring at around 30 in. tall and between 30 – 56 in. long. They inhabit forests, grasslands, and deserts in Africa.

African wild dogs are opportunistic predators. This means that African wild dogs will often chase medium-sized prey instead of prolonged strategizing over long-distance pursuits.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 44 mph

Many people believe the kangaroo to be the fastest animal in the world. With its towering height and powerful legs, the kangaroo is indeed one of the fastest animals in the world. Found in Australia and New Guinea, kangaroos are herbivores that live up to 23 years. They weigh up to 200 lbs and are over 6 ft. tall.

While most fast animals run, kangaroos hop. They often hop at a moderate speed of 9 mph. However, at their fastest, they can sustain up to 44 mph over a short distance.

Mako Shark

mako shark
Photo in Public Domain

Average speed: 45 mph

The mako shark, or “shortfin mako shark,” is one of the fastest fish in the world. The mako shark lives in the open ocean, in tropical to temperate latitudes. They are around 12 ft. long, and they weigh over 1200 lbs.

As an aggressive predator, the mako shark prey on bony fishes and squids. They are also the fastest sharks in the ocean, so they can easily catch and eat other sharks as well. Aside from swimming really fast, mako sharks can also jump really high.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 45 mph

Many believe the ostrich to be the fastest bird, but how fast can an ostrich run, really? With an average of 45 mph, ostriches are the fastest birds on land. Ostriches are flightless birds that tower at 7 to 9 ft. tall. They weigh a hefty 220 to 350 lbs.

However, their weight hardly affects their speed. In fact, ostriches can cross over 10 ft. within a single stride. You’ll find ostriches running across African savannas and deserts. An interesting trivia about these fastest birds is that their legs are so strong that they can kill a human or predators like lions with a kick.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 46 mph

Commonly known as the English Greyhound, the Greyhound is actually a racing dog. They aren’t only one of the fastest animals in the world. They are also the fastest dog breed. In fact, greyhounds were bred specifically for hunting and racing. Most greyhounds average at 28 in. tall. They weigh between 55 to 75 lbs.

Also, greyhounds have excellent eyesight. As a sighthound, greyhounds hunt by sight and speed instead of by scent. Recently, greyhounds have become popular house pets. If you’re interested in adopting them, then you might chance upon some of these retired racing dogs in the shelter.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna
Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 47 mph

One of the fastest fish in the world is the yellowfin tuna. As one of the fastest animals in the world, the yellowfin tuna is one of the larger tuna species. They range up to 7 ft. long and weigh up to 450 lbs. The yellowfin tuna is an aggressive predator, and they often swallow their prey whole.

You can find yellowfin tuna in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. They are also abundant in Philippine waters.

Brown Hare

rabbit, brown hare
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 48 mph

The brown hare, or European hare, is not just a candidate for the fastest animal in the world. They are one of the cutest animals too. They are 20 to 30 in. long and weigh around 5 to 11 lbs.

These herbivores are native to Europe and parts of Asia. They often inhabit grasslands and large fields, where they can graze on vegetation and tree barks. Their powerful hind legs give them the boost and speed to run away from predators.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 50 mph

People know the blackbuck as the Indian antelope. This candidate for the fastest animal in the world is native to India and Nepal. The blackbuck is around 30 in. tall and weighs between 44 to 126 lbs. You’ll know blackbucks for their unique fur colors and, for males, long ringed horns.

These herbivores favor grasslands. They can also adapt to certain deserts. Blackbucks are incredibly fast. In fact, there is only one predator they cannot outrun: the cheetah.

Blue Wildebeest

blue wildebeest
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 50 mph

Another one of the fastest animals in the world is the blue wildebeest. The blue wildebeest is a broad-shouldered antelope with a large snout. These herbivores measure up to 4.5 ft. tall. Despite weighing 330 to 550 lbs, the blue wildebeest is one of the fastest runners in the wild.

You’ll find blue wildebeests in open plains and woodlands all over Africa. Other names for the blue wildebeest include common wildebeest and brindled gnu.

Black Marlin

Black Marlin
Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 50 mph

Some claim that the black marlin can swim up to a speed of 80 mph. They crown it as the fastest animal in the world. However, the black marlin’s actual speed ranges up to 50 mph only. Despite these exaggerated numbers, the black marlin is still one of the fastest fish in the world.

The black marlin is 15.3 ft long. They also weigh at a heavy 1650 lbs. Black marlins can be found in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. This includes Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Mexico.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 55 mph

Another antelope qualifies as the fastest animal in the world. The springbok is a slender antelope that is around 30 in. tall and weighs between 60 – 90 lbs. Springboks have horns that curve at the end. They have white faces with distinct black stripes that run from the eyes to the mouth.

One trivia about the springbok is that it is the National Animal of South Africa. Springboks are found in the dry, open lands of South Africa. In deserts, they feed on shrubs and succulents.

American Quarter Horse

american quarter horse
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 55 mph

At this point in the list, you might be wondering whether a horse can qualify as the fastest animal in the world. The American Quarter Horse is a fierce contender. The American Quarter Horse’s speed is the fastest among horse breeds for short distances.

This horse is sweet-tempered and extremely friendly, so they are popular among racers. They stand at around 57 – 63 in. tall and have a broad chest.


lion facts
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 60 mph

One of the fastest animals in the world is the lion. The lion, or African lion, is a carnivore that weighs around 265 – 420 lbs. These apex predators are around 60 to 80 in. long. Lions favor grasslands and savannas, where they can freely chase their prey. Today, they can be found in parts of Africa and in western India.

Culturally, lions star in various literature and films. They are often featured as symbols of strength and skill in some Asian countries. Like in the popular Disney film, people believe lions to be the kings of the animal kingdom.

Pronghorn Antelope

pronghorn antelope
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 60 mph

While the pronghorn antelope isn’t the fastest animal in the world, it is certainly one of the fastest runners. The pronghorn antelope weighs between 90 to 120 lbs. Furthermore, it stands at around 2 ft. tall.

The name of this animal can be misleading. The pronghorn isn’t actually an antelope. However, it closely resembles the springbok, another antelope. Thus, people called it the pronghorn antelope or American antelope in North America.


Swordfish to the surface of the sea
Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 60 mph

The swordfish, or broadbills, is one of the fastest fish in the world. This predatory fish is very popular. It has a distinctly long, pointed bill that looks like a sword. Most swordfish are 9.8 ft long and weigh around 1430 lbs. The biggest swordfish, however, is recorded at 14.9 ft.

The swordfish swims at a speed of 60 mph, making it a strong candidate for the fastest animal in the world. Furthermore, the swordfish is very common. They inhabit various seas worldwide.


Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 68 mph

Aside from the swordfish, the sailfish is another billfish on the list of the fastest animals in the world. The sailfish looks similar to the swordfish. However, a sailfish has a distinct dorsal fin that extends across its back. This is called a sail because of its appearance. The sailfish measures between 6 to 11 ft. long. Its weight ranges from 120 to 220 lbs.

While the sailfish isn’t the fastest animal in the world, it hails as the fastest fish in the world. You can find sailfish in most seas worldwide as long as it is cold.


running cheetah, fastest animal in the world
Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 70 mph

Now, many believe the cheetah to be the fastest animal in the world. How fast can a cheetah run compared to a human, you might ask? With a speed that is three times faster than the average human’s running speed of 22 mph, the cheetah is the fastest runner on land. Some cheetahs can even run up to 80 mph.

Cheetahs are incredibly lean creatures. They are around 4 ft. tall and can weigh from 46 to 160 lbs. Furthermore, their long thin legs help them catch their prey easily. You’ll find a cheetah running in the dry grasslands of Africa and in central Iran.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 79 mph

Faster than the cheetah is the albatross. Albatrosses are seabirds who inhabit the Southern Ocean and North Pacific. They are one of the largest flying birds in the world with a wingspan of up to 12 ft.

These birds are very fast. This comes in handy when they catch prey such as squid and fish. They will often dive down and try to catch those that swim close enough to the surface.

Spur-Winged Goose

Spur-Winged Goose, fastest animal in the world
Image from Adobe Stock

Average speed: 88 mph

The spur-winged goose is another strong contender for the fastest animal in the world. Found across the wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa, the spur-winged goose is a large flying bird. In fact, the spur-winged goose is the largest goose in the world. These omnivores are 30 to 45 in. big. They also weigh around 8.8 to 15 lbs.

An interesting fact about this bird is that they have poisonous spikes on their wings. These toxins are from blister beetles they encounter in the wild.


Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 90 mph

The horse-fly, or simply “horsefly,” is a large insect that can overthrow the cheetah as the fastest animal in the world. These insects are incredibly agile. With their speed, they bite animals and humans for blood. If you find yourself near streams or marshes, be on the lookout for horse-flies. They are carriers of different animal diseases like anthrax and tularemia.

A fun fact about the horse-fly is that they appear in Ancient Greek literature. In Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy, horse-flies drive people to madness.

Frigate Bird

frigate bird
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 95 mph

The frigate bird’s wings are long and pointed. In fact, their wingspan reaches up to 7.5 ft. This is the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird. This is likely why they rank close to the fastest animal in the world. As seabirds, frigate birds feed on fish and squid.

The frigate bird is also known as “frigate-bird” or “frigate-petrel.” You’ll find these birds flying over tropical and subtropical oceans.

Rock Dove

rock dove
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 97 mph

You might not have expected this, but the rock dove comes in close to the fastest animal in the world. The rock dove is also called “rock pigeon” or simply “pigeon.” Rock doves are 11 to 15 in. long. Meanwhile, their wingspan can range from 24 to 28 in. These birds weigh less than 1 lb. This is likely why they are such fast fliers.

You’ll find rock doves in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. They settle in both the wild and in city areas.

Eurasian Hobby

eurasian hobby
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 99 mph

The Eurasian hobby is one of the fastest birds in the world. You can also call the Eurasian hobby as simply “hobby.” Most Eurasian hobbies are 11 to 14 in. long. They have a wingspan that ranges from 29 to 33 in. Furthermore, they only weigh less than a pound.

These small falcons inhabit areas in Africa, Europe, and Central and East Asia. During the winter, they’ll migrate to parts of South Africa and South Asia. They favor open farmlands and marshes where they can hunt dragonflies and other birds.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
Image from Flickr

Average speed: 100 mph

You might know this bird as the Brazilian free-tailed bat. The Mexican free-tailed bat lives in North America. The Mexican free-tailed bat is one of the fastest animals in the world. In fact, it has the fastest horizontal speed of any animal. These bats are only 3.5 in. long. They also weigh incredibly light, even lighter than the Eurasian hobby.

These small bats mostly eat insects. They feed on moths, beetles, and dragonflies. Also, a fun fact about this mammal is that it is the state mammal of Texas.

White-Throated Needletail

White-Throated Needletail
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Average speed: 106 mph

The white-throated needletail comes in close as the fastest animal in the world. This bird is also called “needle-tailed swift” or “spine-tailed swift.” Most of them are 8 in. long. Like the other birds on this list, the white-throated needletail is very light and weighs less than a pound.

The white-throated needletail is found in Central Asia, southern Siberia, and Australia. It is also found in some parts of Southeast Asia. For their diet, they mostly feed on beetles, bees, and other insects.

Golden Falcon

Average speed: 150 mph

The golden falcon or “golden eagle” is the second fastest animal in the world. Golden falcons are usually 33 to 38 in. long. Furthermore, their wingspans measure up to 7.5 ft. They are relatively heavier than other birds. They weigh around 6 to 15 lbs. However, this does not slow them down at all.

The golden falcon is the largest bird of prey. They feed on rabbits and squirrels. You’ll also find them catching other small fish and replies. One last fact about the golden falcon is that they are the national bird of Mexico.

Peregrine Falcon

peregrine falcon
Source: Pixabay

Average speed: 200 mph

Last but not least is the one who wins the title of the fastest animal in the world. The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world. In flight, these birds can do a high-speed dive. Furthermore, according to National Geographic, researchers were able to measure a speed of 242 mph.  The length of a peregrine falcon measures 13 to 23 in. Despite its relatively larger size, it is incredibly lightweight. Most weigh around 2 to 3 lbs.

As a bird of prey, peregrines feed on a variety of smaller animals. You can find peregrines in almost any part of the world. It is one of the most widely found bird species. In fact, New Zealand might be the only place it can’t be found.

The peregrine falcon is also called the “duck hawk” or just “Peregrine.”

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