How Fast Does a Rhino Run?

By Ethan Shaw
Pavel Bortel/Hemera/Getty Images

Rhinoceroses are odd-toed ungulates native to sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, though all five living species have hugely contracted in range and number due to the influence of humans. Despite their titanic, tank-like bulk, rhinos can be amazingly swift: The fastest may reach at least 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph).

Top Speeds of Rhino Species

Both Indian and Sumatran rhinos attain running speeds of 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) and perhaps more. Likely even swifter are the two African rhinos. The white rhinoceros -- biggest of all modern rhinos – bolts at 40 to 50 kilometers per hour (25 to 31 mph), while the smaller black rhino can reach 55 kilometers per hour (34 mph).

Rhino Locomotion

Muscular hind legs provide most of a rhino’s forward propulsion. The animals commonly run at a swift trot, but hit full speed in a canter or gallop. While rhinos are not endurance athletes, territorial chases in black rhinos may cover better than a mile. The black rhino in particular is renowned -- and feared -- for its ability to make tight turns mid-charge.

Motivations for Running

Rhinos will take flight from predators -- especially big cats, namely African lions and Asian tigers -- though adults are rarely preyed upon and are just as liable to charge carnivores. Dominant black and white rhino bulls will chase subordinates, but, because fleeing exposes vulnerable hindquarters to a pursuer’s goring, submissive animals often back away from confrontation.

About the Author

Ethan Shaw is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written extensively on outdoor recreation, ecology and earth science for outlets such as Backpacker Magazine, the Bureau of Land Management and Atlas Obscura. Shaw holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.