The average human running speed is about 12 to 15 miles per hour – not quick enough to outrun the fastest animal predators in the U.S.
The most formidable North American animals pair fearsome hunting abilities with phenomenal speed. These predators are faster than their prey, and they use their gift wisely.
Check out the 5 fastest animal predators in the U.S.
Despite popular belief, the cheetah is not the fastest animal in the world. The skies of North America are home to an aerial threat that can go three times faster than the quickest land animal. The amazing peregrine falcon is equipped with mighty chest muscles, a long wingspan and a streamlined form factor. No other creature looks as deliberately designed to accelerate as this bird of prey. Reaching speeds over 200 mph, the falcon descends on its prey in a blur of ferocity, striking with its clenched talons. It’s not the talons, however, that take down its prey – it’s the impact of its dive. Thanks to its mobility, the species crops up everywhere. It particularly favors rocky, open-country, near water, where other birds flock.
The largest reptile in North America, the American alligator can stretch over 16 feet from head to tail. Its massive size translates into speed. Alligators are capable of charging at prey spectacularly fast. The stereotype of lazy gators basking in the sun and occasionally crawling along couldn’t be more different than the truth. Gators can move in short bursts, even being clocked at up to 10 mph. In the swamp, moving at 10 mph is lightning fast. Incredibly difficult to avoid, gators occupy the southeast United States, including all of Florida and Louisiana, the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, coastal South and North Carolina, Eastern Texas, the southeast corner of Oklahoma and the southern tip of Arkansas.
The gray wolf, also called the timber wolf, can toggle between several gears: walk, trot, lope and gallop. It walks at a creditable four mph and can seriously step on the gas, reaching up to 40 mph during a chase. It only runs at full tilt when it has gotten as close to its prey as possible. Then, it turns on the speed, pushing its prey to the limit and beyond. Despite its instinct for energy conservation, the wolf can sustain the pressure. The predator is capable of holding top speed for a distance of several miles. Its tremendous stamina allows it to cover a distance of over 18 miles at a steady trot. Today, the gray wolf occupies Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Also called the “American jackal,” “prairie wolf” and “brush wolf,” the coyote is smaller and slimmer than the typical wolf. Coyotes usually walk at about 13 mph. Yes, they walk as fast as most of us can run. When trotting, coyotes reach speeds up to 20 mph. They can run at twice that speed in short bursts if motivated enough. The coyote is found from Alaska all the way southward into Central America. It can be found especially, however, on the Great Plains. Historically, the eastern border of its range was the Appalachians. The predator, however, has broadened its range, and now turns up across the U.S.
The most awe-inspiring predator in this list, the grizzly, proves that you should never judge a book by its cover. Despite its stumpy legs and long, heavy torso, the grizzly moves like lightning, clocking up speeds of up to 30 mph. A grizzly bear can travel 300 yards in 15 seconds if her cubs are threatened. Like coyotes, bears can reportedly run down deer. Additionally, don’t assume you are safe in water because grizzlies are nifty swimmers. The grizzly bear can be found scattered around the lower 48 states and Alaska.