How fast can a rhino run? Learn about the speeds of all 5 rhino species. Plus reasons why they charge, and how to avoid a rhino charge. And how to stay safe if it happens.
How Fast Can a Rhino Run?
Rhinos can run between 25-34 mph (40-55 km/h). Black rhinos run the fastest of all rhinos.
How can such big creatures reach such speeds? Despite being built like tanks, their powerful hind legs propel them forward. When they reach top speeds, they will actually run on their toes!
Rhinos live throughout sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. We’ll be looking at the five rhino species: Indian, Sumatran, Javan, White, and Black.
Rhino Running Speeds: All 5 Species
Here are the top running speeds of all 5 rhino species.
- Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis) and Sumatran (Dicerorhinus sumatrenis) rhinos can get up to speeds of 25 mph (40 km/h). Some estimates have Indian rhinos at 34 mph (55 km/h).
- Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) can get up to 30 mph (48 km/h).
- White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) are the largest rhinos. They can get to between 25-31 mph (40-50 km/h).
- Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are considered to be the fastest of the rhino species. Their top speed is 34 mph (55 km/h).
3 Reasons Rhinos Run
Here are the primary reasons that will cause a rhinoceros to run or charge.
- Rhinos may choose to charge at something unfamiliar or a threat. In fact, since rhinos don’t have very good eyesight, they’ll even charge inanimate objects like trees and rocks, thinking they’re threats.
- Rhinos can run away when they feel endangered. This means fleeing from predators, especially big cats like African lions or Asian tigers. Unfortunately, this also means fleeing from the greatest danger rhinos currently face: illegal poaching.
- Another reason rhinos will run, especially the dominant bulls, is to chase subordinates or more submissive rhinos. This often results in the submissive rhinos backing away, so as not to leave their vulnerable hindquarters exposed to goring.
Rhinos aren’t known for running long distances, but black rhinos may engage in territory chases that may cover around a mile (1.6 km/h) long.
Risks of Charging Rhinos
As mentioned previously, rhinos have a tendency to run towards or charge at something it considers threatening.
Black rhinos are considered to be the most aggressive, as they have the ability to turn tightly in the middle of a charge.
Can a human outrun a rhino?
No, not even if you’re an elite athlete. Rhinos run faster than any human on record.
For example, in 2009, Usain Bolt got to almost 27.8 mph (44.7 km/h) in a 100-meter race during the World Championships in Berlin. This is the fastest speed recorded for a human and he only did that for about 20 meters.
As shown, the fastest man in the world would be hard-pressed to outrun a rhino at those speeds. Doesn’t look good for the rest of us.
4 Ways to Avoid a Rhino Charge
To avoid a rhino running towards, or charging you, it would be wise to take some precautions.
The following steps may help you avoid a dangerous situation with a rhino.
- Stay downwind from the rhino. They have a strong sense of smell, so staying downwind can help lessen the chance of a rhino noticing you.
- You should avoid approaching rhinos for any reason, especially if there is no place to hide.
- You should also avoid interfering with a mother and its baby, as they will be very protective of their young. (This would apply to most species of animal).
- Stay still. Since rhinos have poor eyesight, it would be wise not to surprise a rhino to avoid spooking them into charging. Thus, staying still would be preferable if you fancy not getting gored.
In short, admire rhinos from a distance. Everyone will be happier for it, including the rhino.
Learn more: 13 Fastest Animals in Africa
6 How can you survive a rhino charge
What if, despite all precautions taken (or, more likely, all precautions ignored), a rhino still charges you?
Here are some things you can do if a rhino starts running towards, or attacking you:
- Try to be within close reach of trees that you can climb. Make sure they’re strong so that a rhino can’t just push it down with its charge.
- If you have to climb a tree, try to climb to at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) as a rhino stands at almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall.
- If there are no trees, then find some sturdy rocks or spiny shrubs may protect you from impact. A vehicle may work too, although rhinos have been known to tip vehicles.
- If a rhino gets too close, try tossing a personal item you may have on you towards the charging creature. The scent of your chosen item might distract the rhino long enough so you can get out of there.
- If you have no time to escape, there’s a chance to avoid injury. Get to the ground as quickly as possible with your feet towards the rhino. This will help you avoid getting gored by the horn.
- The previous point has you avoiding the horn but leaves you open to getting trampled. If you time it right, then you may be able to roll away from the feet of the rhino.
While these steps won’t guarantee your survival, they hopefully provide some insights as to what to do when a rhino runs towards you. Here are more tips for surviving a rhino charge.
Learn more about rhinos: What Do Rhinos Eat? Guide to All 5 Species
What are some other fast animals? Here are the 30 Fastest Animals in the World: Land, Air, Water
Keep Reading: How Fast Can a Crocodile Run?
You might also enjoy: 22 Facts about Rhinoceros Beetles
What did we miss? Do you have any ideas on how to avoid/survive a rhino charge? Or do you have any personal experiences with rhinos? Let us know in the comments below!
- About the Author
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Hello, I’m Joshua Diegor. My love for travel began I was 18 when I went with some friends to New York City. All in all, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 14 countries.
I’m a regular contributor to Storyteller Travel.