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Old 05-02-2006, 11:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How fast can an animal run?

I was discussing hiking with my dad earlier and I wondered aloud if I could outrun a black bear if it came down to it. This led to some searches online and the discovery of a rewarding table that lists various animals, and the speeds at which they are able to run.

The chart and information was obtained from Fact Monster and has the following disclaimer:

Quote:
Most of the following measurements are for maximum speeds over approximate quarter-mile distances. Exceptions—which are included to give a wide range of animals—are the lion and elephant, whose speeds were clocked in the act of charging; the whippet, which was timed over a 200-yard course; the cheetah over a 100-yard distance; humans for a 15-yard segment of a 100-yard run; and the black mamba snake, six-lined race runner, spider, giant tortoise, three-toed sloth, and garden snail, which were measured over various small distances.
Code:
Animal | Speed  (mph)
 
Peregrine falcon: 200.00+ 
Cheetah:  70.00 
Pronghorn antelope:  61.00 
Lion:  50.00 
Thomson's gazelle:  50.00 
Wildebeest:  50.00 
Quarter horse:  47.50 
Cape hunting dog:  45.00 
Elk:  45.00 
Coyote:  43.00 
Gray fox:  42.00 
Hyena:  40.00 
Ostrich: 40.00 
Zebra:  40.00 
Mongolian wild ass:  40.00 
Greyhound:  39.35 
Whippet:  35.50 
Jackal:  35.00 
Mule deer:  35.00 
Rabbit: (domestic)  35.00 
Giraffe:  32.00 
Reindeer: 32.00 
Cat (domestic):  30.00 
Kangaroo: 30.00 
Grizzly bear:  30.00 
Wart hog:  30.00 
White-tailed deer:  30.00 
Human:  27.89 
Elephant:  25.00 
Black mamba snake:  20.00 
Six-lined race runner:  18.00 
Squirrel:  12.00 
Pig (domestic):  11.00 
Chicken : 9.00 
House mouse: 8.00 
Spider (Tegenearia atrica):  1.17 
Giant tortoise:  0.17 
Three-toed sloth:  0.15 
Garden snail:  0.03
Human is unrealistically high, and I assume the speed of 27 mph was taken from one of the fastest runners, perhaps Michael Johnson. The average human probably would be unable to reach a speed in excess of 20 mph, even in a time of crisis.

It turned out to be both an interesting, and also a humbling, list as I had the distant notion that I might actually be able to outrun a bear while hiking, if it came down to it.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I doubt the average human gets above 15 mph at top speed. Young fit people might get it into the low twenties.

Humans do have the ability to run for longer periods than many animals, but that's about it for physical advantages.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highthief
Humans do have the ability to run for longer periods than many animals, but that's about it for physical advantages.
Well, there is that whole opposable thumb thing. If the bear and I both have shotguns...
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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don't you just have to technically run faster than your hiking companions?

Years ago, I had gone hiking with some friends, and the park rangers told us to make noise on the trails to keep the bears away... (ie bells on our backpacks, etc..) He also suggested that if we encountered a deaf bear that wasn't disturbed by the noise - to head downhill fast because bears couldn't run downhill... we never did see a bear.. so we couldn't test the theory - but something to keep in mind..
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Having seen a (black)bear run, I have to say it is a very humbling experience. They are very, very fast.

And for the Mule Deer at 35mph and the Whitetail Deer at 30mph throws a little bit of doubt into the whole list. Those deer can go about 40-45 easy. At least they can when there is hot lead licking their balls.

I wonder if there is a similar list that discuss the speed of animals when death is on the line?
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
He also suggested that if we encountered a deaf bear that wasn't disturbed by the noise - to head downhill fast because bears couldn't run downhill... we never did see a bear.. so we couldn't test the theory - but something to keep in mind..
My grandfather also told me this, has something to do with shorter front legs and longer back legs. The opposite I suppose would also be true, bears would kick your butt uphill. Sounds like one of those urban legends to me though.

As far as how fast a person can run, I seem to remember from track that the majority of fit people could run a 100m sprint in 12-15 seconds. If you crank out the math that gives you 18.6-14.9 mph. As long as I can still do math, which is debatable
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBen
Having seen a (black)bear run, I have to say it is a very humbling experience. They are very, very fast.
Word to that. I was hiking in the Smokeys as a teen and watched a black bear charge something. We were about 100 yards away, and the bear was moving laterally to us, and it gave me a greater respect for the fact that anything with 4 legs is inherently faster than me, no matter what shape I'm in. My neighbor growing up used to remind us that bears can run faster, climb higher and swim faster than any human, so if we go charged (unlikely with a black bear), just play dead.

My one other experience with a bear doesn't involve any running, but I did get to test what the ranger told Mal. I was on summer break and doing some volunteer work in the Smokeys with the aforementioned neighbor. We were putting some fill around some exposed roots when a bear wandered up the trail towards us. We were noisy and banged our shovels, yelled and generally tried to be bigger than the bear. The bear stopped and just sort of looked at us. We kept it up for a couple of minutes until the bear decided to sit down in the middle of the trail to watch the show. We basically just gave up and went back to what we were doing (but still keeping an eye on the bear). It got bored and wandered off up the hill, never to be seen again.

By the way, Michael Johnson could only aspire to 27.96 mph. That's more like Tim Montgomery (with or without the drugs). Only a 100m sprinter (or better yet a 60m sprinter) is going to hit that kind of speed.

Also, is including the perrigrin falcon fair if it's flying and not running?
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So how fast can a black bear run?
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Swimming Ability: Good. Speed and distance limits are untested. Can swim at least a mile and a half in fresh water. One swam more than 9 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Can swim to island campsites.

Running Speed:
Lean bears can exceed 30 mph. Can run uphill, downhill, or on level ground. Fat bears in winter coats overheat and tire quickly.

http://www.bear.org/Black/Black_Bear_Facts.html
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Humans run way faster downhill than bears and we can maintain speed for longer. However don't run toward brush as that will slow you down. Bears do have shorter front legs and depending on how hungry they are, will often give up chasing you if they have eaten recently or if they are just chasing you away from their cubs. However, if they are hungry, then play dead, and even if they bite you once, do not cry out at all. That said, I would probably run downhill and hope to hit some river and hope the rapids don't break me too badly. (^: One woman hiker was up on a cliff and she used a stick of wood to thwack the bear ontop of the head until it went away. That would never work on a hungry bear though....

Also a lot of fur animal speeds are faster at certain times of the year. Some animals are kinda chubby in winter putting on fat and might be outrun possibly. Wearing a bell is a good idea, but you need to be able to take that bell off at some point, so don't tie it overly too tight as it can find you easier in the dark with you wearing a bell. Ditch that backpack and you can run faster as well! (^:

The only bear I ever saw was near a hot springs. The bear too one sniff of the sulphur springs and left. Maybe it wasn't hungry. *shrug*

Anyone see that tv special awhile back. They had a race between a cheetah, car, horse, man, and greyhound. The only reason the horse won, because the race was on dirt. The super loud car engine scared the bejezus out of the greyhound and the cheetah and they didn't run fast or in a straight line and they kinda freaked. The horse was freaked out by the car noise, but ran even faster because of the noise. I think it was a quarter horse. My memory is sorta fuzzy.

Jonathan
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Humans: 1
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I'm satisfied.
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Old 05-02-2006, 07:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for putting it all into perspective for us Will, I can sleep easy tonight!
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:11 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Mongolian wild ass....hmmmm...


That's a humbling list, alright.
To be beat by a chicken.
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