How Fast Do Rabbits Run? Wild + Domestic Rabbit Top Speed

With lightning-fast reflexes and powerful hind legs built for speed, rabbits are nature’s kings of evasion, capable of explosive bursts unrivaled for their petite stature. Pound for pound, few animals can match the sheer speed of a determined rabbit running full tilt. Though they may lack endurance, rabbits have an ace up their fuzzy sleeves – breakneck acceleration. Whether wild or domesticated, when startled into an all-out sprint, rabbits become tiny furry blurs, reaching impressive velocities of 40+ mph in the blink of an eye. Their velocity and agility are life-saving adaptations that turn rabbits into feather-footed escape artists supremely adapted for juking predators and sprinting to safety in a dash. Ready, set, zoom – the race is on to uncover the secrets behind the speed of these hopping quicksters!

How Fast Do Rabbits Run?

Rabbits are remarkably fast animals, capable of running at speeds up to 45 mph. Their powerful hind legs allow them to sprint short distances very quickly, making them adept at evading predators in the wild.

When fleeing danger, rabbits rely on these rapid bursts of speed to dart away and find cover. However, they cannot maintain their top speeds for very long before tiring. Still, their acceleration and agility help them escape threats effectively.

Domestic rabbits retain much of the speed and quickness of their wild cousins. But selective breeding has influenced their physique and temperament, impacting some of their physical abilities. Certain breeds are slower than others and may top out at different maximum speeds.

Ultimately, a rabbit's top speed depends on its size, breed, physique, and fitness level. Larger wild rabbits and domestic breeds like the Flemish Giant can exceed 40 mph, while smaller varieties may max out around 25-35 mph. But under the right conditions, rabbits of all types have remarkable speed over short distances.

How Do Rabbits Move?

Rabbits move in a unique way that allows them to run so swiftly. Here's an overview of how rabbits hop and sprint:

  • Powerful Hind Legs – A rabbit's strong back legs enable it to propel itself forward with immense force. Its hind feet are elongated to maximize acceleration.

  • Coordinated Hopping – Rabbits don't actually run. Instead, they hop in a coordinated fashion, pushing off with their powerful hind legs and tucking their forelegs in while airborne. Each hop propels them several feet forward rapidly.

  • S-Shaped Spine – A rabbit's flexible spine bends into an S-shape during each hop, acting like a spring to smoothly transfer force from its back legs to its front legs. This also cushions landing impact.

  • Angled Body – Unlike quadruped mammals, rabbits hop with their body tilted at a 45-degree angle, using their hind legs for propulsion and forelegs for steering and balance. This streamlined position enhances speed.

  • Fast Reflexes – Rabbits start and stop quickly thanks to fast-twitch muscle fibers in their hind legs. These allow for explosive acceleration and rapid changes of direction.

By coordinating these anatomical features and movements, rabbits can achieve blazing fast hopping speeds for rapid getaways or evasive maneuvers. It's a unique locomotion optimized for speed and agility.

How Do Rabbits Run So Fast?

Rabbits have several key adaptations that allow them to run at remarkably fast speeds:

  • Powerful Hind Leg Muscles – A rabbit's back legs contain large muscles that provide tremendous force for fast hopping. These muscles store elastic energy with each hop.

  • Springy Tendons – The tendons in a rabbit's hind legs act like springs, stretching and recoiling with each hop to conserve momentum and improve efficiency.

  • Long Hind Feet – A rabbit's elongated hind paws act like levers to help propel it forward with each push off the ground. More force is generated.

  • Compact Frame – A lean, lightweight body with a tucked spine aids speed by reducing drag and making them more aerodynamic.

  • Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers – Fast glycolytic muscle fibers in their hind legs allow for explosive acceleration and rapid movement.

  • Excellent Reflexes – Rabbits react instantly to stimuli, allowing them to dart away in an instant when senses danger.

  • High Stamina – In short bursts, rabbits can sustain rapid speed by utilizing anaerobic metabolism to delay fatigue.

  • Selective Breeding – Domestic rabbits have been bred to optimize agility, strength, and speed.

These adaptations make rabbits impressively quick creatures over short distances. When threatened, they can unleash remarkable speed and evasive maneuvers.

Top Speeds of Rabbit Breeds

Different rabbit breeds reach varying top speeds based on their size, physique, and genetics. Some of the fastest domestic rabbit breeds include:

  • Belgian Hare – Up to 40 mph. A lean, athletic build produces speed.

  • Blanc de Hotot – 35+ mph. Long hind legs and a compact body provide rapid acceleration.

  • English Spot – 30-40 mph. Powerful hindquarters propel bounding hops.

  • Flemish Giant – 35-45+ mph. The breed's large size doesn't hamper top speed over short distances.

  • Himalayan – 25-35 mph. Quick reflexes and agility aid its speedy evasive maneuvers.

  • Holland Lop – Up to 30 mph. Surprisingly fast for a small rabbit breed.

  • Jackrabbits – Up to 45 mph. Long-legged wild species built for speed.

  • Lionhead – 20-30 mph. Smaller build but still capable of rapid movement.

  • Netherland Dwarf – 20-25 mph typically. Their tiny size limits top speed.

  • Polish – 25-35 mph. A muscular, medium-sized breed adept at sprints.

Larger rabbit breeds like the Flemish Giant can outsprint smaller types when at full speed. But they tire more quickly. Even compact breeds like Holland Lops can be startlingly swift. Ultimately, a rabbit's speed depends on individual fitness.

How Long Can A Rabbit Run At Top Speed?

While rabbits can sprint at blazing fast speeds, they cannot maintain these top speeds for very long. Here's how long rabbits can run all-out:

  • Wild Rabbits – When fleeing predators, wild rabbits can only sustain top speed for a few seconds before tiring. Their maximum speed helps them escape danger initially. But they must then slow down to a pace they can maintain longer while seeking shelter. Generally, wild rabbits can only run at top gear for 3-5 seconds.

  • Domestic Rabbits – Pet rabbits typically max out around 10-15 seconds running at full tilt. Selectively bred for appearance more than stamina, fancy rabbits tire out faster than wild counterparts. Still, their speed helps them engage in short bursts of zoomies and binkies.

  • Hares – Larger than rabbits, hares like jackrabbits have greater stamina and can sustain faster speeds for longer. Some can maintain top pace for 30 seconds or more before fatigue sets in.

  • Fit Rabbits – Like athletes, rabbits that exercise regularly build endurance to run faster, longer. But cardiovascular limits remain. On average, a very fit rabbit may sustain top speed for up to 30 seconds maximum.

While rapid, rabbits simply aren't built physiologically for long-distance running. But their explosive speed and agility help them thrive using short, fast bursts when necessary. With ample rest between sprints, they can repeat these athletic feats as needed.

Rabbit Speed Vs. Other Animals

How does a rabbit's top speed compare to other speedy animals? Here's how they rank:

  • Cheetah – 75 mph. The world's fastest land animal. No contest here!

  • Jackrabbit – 45 mph. Similar to rabbits but larger with more stamina.

  • Pronghorn Antelope – 55 mph. Second fastest land mammal behind cheetahs.

  • Wild Rabbits – 40 mph. Impressive short-distance speed for a small animal.

  • Greyhound – 45 mph. Built for racing and chasing prey.

  • Fox – 30 mph. Quick canine capable of catching rabbits.

  • House Cat – 30 mph. Surprising explosiveness over short distances.

  • Squirrel – 15 mph. Nimble and quick scaling trees.

  • Mouse – 8 mph. Fast for tiny size to evade predators.

  • Human – 15-28 mph. Elite sprinters can edge out rabbits.

  • Tortoise – 0.17 mph. Rabbits leave them in the dust!

For a small mammal, rabbits are surprisingly speedy, leveraging their powerful hind legs, agile frame, quick reflexes and stamina over short distances. But larger animals like cheetahs and antelope can sustain faster speeds over longer distances, clocking over 55 mph paces that leave rabbits in the dust over lengthier races. Still, the rabbit's evasive bursts of acceleration help it adeptly escape threats.

How To Measure a Rabbit's Speed

To get accurate measurements of how fast a rabbit can run, here are two methods:

Stopwatch Method

You'll need:

  • Stopwatch
  • Helper
  • Measuring tape
  • Clear path of known distance
  • Bait (treats)


  1. Measure out a straight track of 20 feet or longer.

  2. Have a helper hold the rabbit at one end of the track.

  3. Position yourself at the opposite end with stopwatch and treats.

  4. Start stopwatch when rabbit is released and sprint toward you.

  5. Stop timer when rabbit crosses the finish line.

  6. Calculate speed by dividing the distance by the time.

Example: A 20 foot track took 3 seconds to complete. 20 ft / 3 s = 6.7 feet/sec x 4.47 = 29.8 mph top speed.

Video Method

You'll need:

  • Video camera
  • Tripod
  • Helper
  • Measuring tape
  • Clear path
  • Video analysis software


  1. Set up camera on tripod perpendicular to race track.

  2. Measure out distance in track area. Mark start/finish lines.

  3. Film helper releasing rabbit and it running the track.

  4. Import video to analysis software.

  5. Use software to calculate time elapsed between start/finish.

  6. Divide distance by elapsed time to determine speed.

Slow motion footage yields the most accurate results. Analyze multiple runs and average the speeds.

These methods allow reasonably precise measurement of a rabbit's running speed. But results will vary based on the rabbit's age, fitness level, breed, and motivation, so repeat testing periodically.


In summary, rabbits are remarkably swift creatures, using their powerful hindquarters to bound forward at speeds exceeding 40 mph. However, they can only sustain top speed for very brief bursts before tiring. A rabbit's acceleration and agility aid its ability to evade predators and danger. While they can't outrun larger, more athletic animals over distance, rabbits possess impressive speed for their petite size. By understanding the biomechanics behind their hopping gaits and their physical adaptations, we gain appreciation for these speedy yet gentle animals. Careful measurement confirms just how fast rabbits can run when they're determined to sprint.


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