On land, crocodiles are characterized as slow-moving animals. That they are, and yet they can move quickly if necessary. Popular wildlife documentaries, however, frequently exaggerate their speeds. Many have seen videos of crocodiles moving incredibly fast but, at other times, quite slowly.
So, just how fast can a crocodile run?
Crocodiles are known to be quite fast for their size. They can run as fast as 14 mph (22 kph). In water, however, crocodiles move much faster than that, with some species reaching speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph).
While crocodiles can reach an impressive speed, they can’t maintain this speed for more than a couple of meters. So as long as you’re not unnecessarily close to a crocodile, you don’t need to be scared and have to run away.
How Fast Are Crocodiles?
Crocodiles move on land with a stiff and sluggish gait because of their weight. Smaller crocodiles may move a little bit more quickly, but the speed does not differ significantly.
Crocodiles are unable to run for long distances. However, they may sprint for short distances of 10 to 20 meters before giving up.
These reptiles have a fairly quick acceleration rate and can sprint from 0 to 15 kilometers per hour in a matter of moments. However, keep in mind that there are different kinds of crocodiles.
Each tends to have its maximum speed, some being faster than others depending on where they are.
This implies that you won’t have much time to respond if they are nearby before they catch you.
These are the typical speeds for some of the most common crocodiles you may come across:
|Species||Top Speed Running||Top Speed Swimming|
|Mugger crocodile||8 mph (13 kph)||12 mph (19 kph)|
|Saltwater crocodile||14 mph (22 kph)||18 mph (29 kph)|
|Nile crocodile||14 mph (22 kph)||18 mph (29 kph)|
|American crocodile||14 mph (22 kph)||20 mph (32 kph)|
Are Crocodiles Faster On Land Or In The Water?
Crocodiles are surprisingly fast in short bursts on land, but it is in the water where they truly shine.
The American crocodile is the fastest when swimming and can reach a top speed of up to 20 mph (32 kph). That is 10x the speed of the average human swimmer.
They are not only swift in the water but also remarkable ambush predators capable of executing a preemptive attack that rarely alerts its target.
Their rate of acceleration is truly amazing, especially in water.
Crocodiles have a burst of speed that allows them to travel an entire body length in less than a second.
Because crocodiles are so fast over short spaces, it is best to keep your distance.
Can A Human Outrun A Crocodile On Land?
Yes, humans can outrun crocs on land if they have a big enough headstart. Humans are generally safe if they stay on land and keep their distance from crocodiles.
This is because crocodiles are fast in bursts of speed, as mentioned above. So distance equals safety.
Suppose you ever find yourself facing a crocodile on land. Some great advice to keep in mind is never to run straight.
Because crocodiles can’t turn very easily, they move quickly in a straight line, which is why you often see trained handlers zigzagging on television.
Crocodiles can only move at a maximum speed of 14 mph (22 kph) on land for a couple of meters.
And while the average speed of the average man is only eight mph (13 kph), humans can maintain that speed for many miles.
As long as you have a good 10-20 meters headstart, a person should easily be able to outrun a crocodile.
And if you happen to be an Olympic sprinter, you can probably outrun a crocodile even if you’re frighteningly close. But we wouldn’t recommend it.
Can You Outswim A Crocodile?
No, you cannot outswim a crocodile. Crocodiles can reach a maximum swimming speed of 20 mph (32 kph), which is about 10x the swimming speed of the average person.
And even if you’re an Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer like Michael Phelps, you don’t stand a chance with your top speed of only 5.5 mph (8.8 kph).
If you’re ever faced with a crocodile in the water, your best bet is to get out of the water as quickly and quietly as possible.
If a boat is nearby, try to get onboard ASAP, as, unlike hippos, crocs rarely try to capsize boats.
Final Thoughts On The Top Speed Of Crocodiles
You should now have a much better understanding of how fast crocodiles can run on land and swim in the water. Some species can reach a top speed on land of 14 mph (22 kph) and a swimming speed of up to 20 mph (32 kph).
But crocodiles are only dangerous to humans on land if they are close by, as most people could outrun them given enough time.
In the water, crocodiles are significantly faster than humans, and you should get out of the water immediately if you see one.
If you ever find yourself close to a crocodile on land or in the water, remain calm and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety.