How Fast Are Hyenas?



Hyenas are considered some of the most adaptable and resourceful animals in the wild, but how do they measure up when it comes to speed? With their powerful legs, long strides, and sharp claws, hyenas have the potential to be some of the fastest creatures on four feet. But just how fast are hyenas?

Hyenas are surprisingly swift runners and can reach speeds of up to 37 mph for several miles. They have well-developed leg muscles that allow them to move quickly, and their large feet provide powerful traction on various terrain. Hyenas can outrun most of their prey, including wildebeest, antelopes, and gazelles.

In this article, we will explore the incredible speed of hyenas and examine how it allows them to be successful hunters in the wild.

Hyena running

How Fast Can a Hyena Run?

Hyenas are known as good runners. The top speed of the largest spotted hyena is about 37 mph.

The species uses its speed and agility to hunt prey such as small antelopes, rodents, and even young giraffes.

They are also known to scavenge on carrion when needed.  Hyena populations have been known to migrate seasonally in search of food, and their speed is a key factor in being able to cover such distances.

They may also use their speed when hunting prey or evading predators. Ultimately, hyenas’ impressive speed is an important asset in their daily lives.

Hyena being chased by another hyena after running off with meat

What Is the Difference in Speed Between Different Species of Hyenas?

There is a great deal of research into the various species of hyenas and the differences between them.

One area of particular interest is the speed at which different species can travel. Let’s have a look.

Spotted Hyena

The Spotted hyena is the largest and fastest of the four species. Spotted hyenas have impressive speed and agility, reaching up to 60 kph (37 mph) when hunting.

They have a bounding gallop and quick turn capability, which helps them corner their prey. Hyenas are also known for their tenacity, persisting in pursuit until they catch or exhaust the target.

This combination of speed, agility, and tenacity are key qualities of spotted hyenas.

Striped Hyena

Striped Hyenas are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of small animals and fruits and vegetables. They are also known to scavenge from human garbage when food is scarce.

They can hunt fast-moving prey when the opportunity presents itself, but their average traveling speed during pursuit is around 2-4 mph.

They have been observed stealing food from humans and can run surprisingly quickly when motivated by hunger.

Brown Hyena

Brown hyenas are omnivorous, taking advantage of whatever food is available. They feed on carrion, small animals, birds, fish, insects, fruit, vegetables, and eggs.

They have a top speed of 50 kph (31 mph) and can cover up to 40 kilometers during the night in search of food.

This species relies more on its cunning rather than speed to catch its prey.

Brown hyena running in the desert


Aardwolves are hyena-like creatures that inhabit the savannas and semi-arid regions of Africa.

They feed primarily on termites but also on small rodents, reptiles, birds, and carrion.

While they only travel at around one kph while foraging, they can reach a max of 30 kph (19 mph) in a pinch.

How Do Hyenas Compare in Speed to Other Animals?

Hyenas are well known for their speed. But how fast are they compared to others they share their habitat with?

Here is an overview.

Hyena vs. Leopards

When it comes to speed, we can’t underestimate a hyena. Hyenas can reach speeds of up to 37 mph and outrun a leopard in most cases. 

However, leopards are also extremely fast and can reach speeds up to 36 mph.

Both animals have powerful muscles and flexible joints that allow them to cover large distances quickly.

Hyena vs. Cheetah

Cheetahs are considered the fastest land animal in the world and can reach speeds up to 75 mph (120 kph). This is almost double that of a hyena’s speed. 

However, despite their relatively slower speeds, hyenas can be surprisingly agile and have been a threat to cheetahs because of their powerful bite.

But in terms of speed, the cheetah will easily outrun the hyena over short distances.

Cheetah chasing aardwolf

Hyena vs. Jackal

Hyenas are faster than jackals, with a top speed of up to 37 mph and the ability to overtake their prey quickly. 

Jackals, however are endurance hunters and can run for long periods of time. While their top speed of 20 mph is no competition for a hyena, it’s still quite the feat for an animal of their size.

Hyena vs. Wolf

The hyena can reach a top speed of 37 mph, while the wolf can reach 35 mph. 

Typically, wolves have an advantage in speed over hyenas due to better endurance and agility when running. Both predators can reach impressive speeds for hunting or escaping danger.

Hyena vs. Wild Dog

Wild dogs can reach an impressive top speed of up to 44 mph, faster than a hyena. Wild dogs also have better agility and endurance when running.

While hyenas have powerful bites that allow them to tackle larger prey, they are typically slower than wild dogs in terms of speed.

How Do Hyenas Use Their Speed To Hunt Prey?

Hyenas are fast and powerful predators, capable of sprinting up to 37 mph for short bursts. Their speed is key to their success as hunters; hyenas can quickly outrun and overtake their prey.

They also use their speed to run down and corner fleeing animals. This gives them an advantage when hunting large and dangerous prey, as they can outmaneuver the animal and dispatch it quickly.

Hyenas also use their speed to chase away competitors at a kill site or scavenge carcasses before other animals can feed. Their speed is one of the key elements of their successful hunting strategy.

Final Thoughts On The Top Speed Of Hyenas

Hyenas are some of the fastest land mammals on the planet. They can run up to 37 mph. This impressive speed allows hyenas to outrun their prey and hunt efficiently, making them one of nature’s most efficient predators. 

With their incredible speed and strength, hyenas are formidable predators that can be found throughout much of Africa.

They may not be the fastest animals on the planet, but they certainly give many other animals a run for their money.

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