How Fast Can a Rhino Run?

Rhinos sure look intimidating with their sharp horns and huge bodies. Despite their size, these massive creatures run faster than you might imagine.

So, how fast can a rhino run, then?

Depending on the specific species, rhinos can run at a top speed ranging from 25 to 34 mph (40 to 55 kph). The black rhino is the fastest rhino, with a top speed of 34 mph (55 kph).

Let’s look at each species and see how far rhinos can run and more.

how fast can a rhino run

How Fast Different Rhino Species Can Run

There are only five species of rhinos left in today’s world. Two of these live in Africa: the white rhino and the black rhino. While the other three, the Javan rhino, the Indian rhino, and the Sumatran rhino, reside in Asia.

Each rhinoceros species can run at a different maximum speed as they come in varying sizes. 

Here are the top speeds of each of these magnificent animals:

Sumatran Rhinos and Indian Rhinos

Let’s start from the lowest speeds and gradually get to the top.

Sumatran and Indian rhinos have similar max speeds, around 25 mph or 40 kph.

In some rare instances, however, Indian rhinos were reportedly clocked at 34 mph or 55 kph.

Javan Rhinos

Next up, we’ve got the Indonesia-native Javan rhinos. Javan rhinos can reach an impressive maximum speed of 30 mph or 48 kph.

White Rhinos

Slightly faster than the previous three rhino species, white rhinos can run at a roaring 31 mph or 50 kph. While that’s their maximum speed, white rhinos are more comfortable running at slightly lower speeds, specifically around 25 mph (40 kph).

It’s worth noting that white rhinos are native to Africa and are the largest out of the entire lot. Interestingly, they’re only second to black rhinos when you rank them according to max running speed.

Black Rhinos

As alluded to, black rhinos are the fastest and can reach an impressive maximum speed of 34 mph or 55 km/h.

To put this impressive speed into perspective, a giraffe, with almost two-meter-long legs, can reach a slightly faster speed of 37 mph (or 60 kph), and leopards can reach a max speed of 36 mph (or 58 kph).

How Are Rhinos Able to Run So Fast?

It’s hard to associate these large beasts with running speeds that range from 25 to 34 mph. Especially when considering they can weigh over three tonnes.

The key to their speed lies in their body structure and muscle strength. Rhinos have large legs with powerful muscles to propel them forward and reach high speeds. 

Those legs are tipped with sharp hooves that kick the ground forcefully, which also aids in their fast movements.

Compared to the average human’s max speed, around six to eight mph, rhinos are much faster. This is why it’s important not to aggravate a rhino into charging; not even the most experienced runner will be able to outrun its sharp horn.

rhino running near a river

Why Do Rhinos Run?

Rhinos run for different reasons, which are responses to survival instincts.

Let’s look at the top three reasons why rhinos need to run:

1. To Get Away From a Threat

The most common reason rhinos run is to escape a threat. 

When they feel in danger of a predator attack from a lion or tiger, they’ll resort to running away or defending themselves.

The predators eventually catch up and prey on running rhinos, especially if it’s an entire pack going after a single rhino. Big cats are much faster, not to mention more agile than the bulkier, less graceful rhinos.

Rhinos are rarely the primary prey for these animals, though, and rhino calves are the main target when they do.

It’s also worth noting that rhinos often run to escape the threat of poachers, which is often futile as these (frankly, most worthless of humans) utilize equipment like helicopters, ATVs, and the like to hunt these innocent animals.

2. To Charge at an Unfamiliar Object or Creature

Another reason rhinos run is to charge at something that looks unfamiliar to eliminate a potential threat.

Rhinos have poor eyesight and often run at inanimate objects like trees or rocks. This means that they might also charge at humans if they wander into their territory.

We don’t blame them for that; rhinos were subject to decades of poaching. It makes sense that seeing a human in their territory can trigger their fight-or-flight response.

3. To Establish Dominance

The last cause of a rhino running is a dominant rhino’s attempt to keep other submissive rhinos in check.

The leader of the lot might chase a subordinate to establish dominance and maintain the pecking order in the group. Often, the rhino that’s being chased will back away to avoid the dominant bull’s wicked horn.

rhino charging

What Is the Longest Distance That a Rhino Can Run?

Because of their lack of agility and bulky bodies, rhinos aren’t known to run for too long. They tire pretty quickly.

However, they can still chase outsider rhinos, animals, and even humans that venture into their territories, running for as long as an entire mile to keep strangers away.

Final Thoughts on Rhinos Top Speed

Though they may not be the marathon runners of the animal world, when it comes to a short burst of speed, rhinos can really move, reaching speeds of between 25-34 mph (40-55 kph).

When faced with danger or a threat, these animals will use their impressive size and weight to plow through obstacles to reach safety or escape. And as we’ve seen repeatedly, even the mightiest carnivores are no match for a charging rhino. 

So next time you see a rhino, remember that although they may look slow and sluggish, they are quite fast and agile when needed.