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How Fast is a Zebra? All 3 Species: Top Speeds, Reasons

Just how fast can a zebra run? Zebras are African equines related to horses. In this post, you’ll learn about the speeds of zebras, why they run, as well as some other interesting information.

how fast is a zebra

How Fast a Zebra Can Run and Other Interesting Facts

Zebras are fast, though not as fast as you might think. Some estimates show that zebras can reach speeds of around 35-43.5 mph (56-70 km/h).

As one would imagine, zebras run like horses. When zebras gallop, they begin with their hind legs thrusting forward.

As they touch down and push off, then their front legs continue the stride, reaching forwards and pulling them on. After the zebras’ front feet have finished pulling them forward, there is an instant when all for feet are off the ground.

More than just gallop, zebras can walk, trot, and canter, like their equine relatives.

How fast are the different zebra species?

There are 3 species of zebras still living today, and they have similar speeds.

  • The Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) and the Plains zebra (Equus quagga) are thought to have the same top speed of 40-43.5 mph (64-70 km/h).
  • The Mountain zebra (Equus zebra) is thought to be slightly slower, with top speeds estimated at 35-40 mph (56-64 km/h).

Learn more about the different zebra species.

how fast can a zebra run

At what age can a zebra run?

Zebras can run almost right away from birth. Within an hour of being born, baby zebras can start to walk. Within 24 hours, baby zebras learn how to run. This is important for getting away from predators.

Because they’re still so young, zebra calves will stay inside the herd to be protected by the faster, more agile adults.

baby zebra running

Can zebras run as fast as horses?

No, zebras can’t run as fast as horses. As mentioned above, zebras can reach 42 mph (68 km/h), while the fastest horses can reach 55 mph (88.5 km/h).

zebra speed

Reasons Zebra Run

Zebras are migratory creatures. They may move around with the seasons to find better sources of food and water. Plains zebras have been recorded traveling 310 miles (500 kilometers), quite the distance!

The zebra’s biggest reason to run is to get away from their predators. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and even Nile crocodiles (if they get too close in the water).

Lions are the zebra’s biggest predator. Lions may use surprise to hunt a zebra and have to catch zebras within the first six seconds of their assault.

Other predators, like wild dogs and cheetahs, may focus priority on young zebras. If these ones are hunting as a herd, they may try to take on an adult zebra. However, an adult has a powerful kick to defend itself, and may also bite. This is why baby zebras are more likely to be targeted.

Zebras can be outrun by most of their predators, but they have incredible stamina. They may run at full speed for upwards of a mile. Zebras can also maintain a speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) for up to 12 miles (19 km).

Another tactic that zebras may use is zig-zagging. Since they can be outrun by their predators, zebras will zig-zag to throw off any animal chasing them.

Zebra Speed Comparisons

Having just talked about the predators that zebras need to run away from, how do their top speeds compare?

The following list has some interesting stats on that:

  • Lions: 50 mph (80 km/h) in short bursts
  • Cheetahs: up to 70 mph (113 km/h), though fastest recorded speed is 61 mph (98 km/h).
  • African Wild Dogs: 44 mph (71 km/h)
  • Hyenas: 40 mph (64 km/h)
  • Nile Crocodiles: Up to 35 mph (56 km/h)

As mentioned, most of the above can outrun a zebra, but a zebra’s stamina can help level the playing field.

Can a Human Outrun a Zebra

No, humans cannot outrun zebras. The world’s fastest man got to a top speed of nearly 28 mph (45 km/h), and for only 20 meters (66 meters).

That is 15.5 mph (25 km/h) slower than a zebra’s top speed. In fact, that’s 2 mph (3 km/h) slower than the zebra’s average speed, which they can run over miles!

Learn more: 13 Fastest African Animals

are zebras fast

More reading: What Sounds Does a Zebra Make?

Your Turn!

What are your thoughts on zebras? Is there anything we missed? Plan on seeing any zebras anytime soon? Let us know in the comments!