How Fast Can An Ostrich Run?

May 5, 2023 // 11 minutes read // 1 Shares

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How fast do ostriches run

Ostriches are considered the fastest bird in the world. Have you ever wondered how fast an ostrich can run? Today, I will answer this important question and others related to its speed, body type, and much more.

Ostriches don’t fly, but their speed is unmatched on the land. They are the fastest birds alive. No other birds can run faster. Scientists have clocked their speeds between 30-37 mph. While sprinting, their speeds can reach up to 43 mph. Their long legs can cover up to 10 feet per single stride.

Here’s the deal:

You’re undoubtedly ready to learn all about ostriches and how quickly they can run. Did you know that there were other important related topics to consider? I’ll fill you in on all the details below. The topics I’ll cover will include:

  • Why ostriches can’t fly
  • Determine whether or not the ostrich really is the fastest-running bird
  • The reasons why ostriches run so fast
  • How long and how far ostriches can run each day
  • and other interesting tidbits

To discover the running speeds of ostriches and so much more, keep reading below to learn this valuable information.

Is an ostrich the fastest-running bird?

Even though the ostrich cannot fly, this mighty bird is incredibly fast, and it’s one of the quickest runners in the world. As a matter of fact, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute,

“Ostriches can’t fly, but no birds can match their speed on land. Ostriches are the fastest-running birds in the world!”

Their legs are incredibly long and extremely strong. This gives them the ability to take very large strides by as much as 10 feet per stride in a single step. Besides their long strides, their feet provide a springboard effect. This creates shock absorption and cushioning that grants the ostrich the quick ability to propel forward very fast.

Why don’t ostrich fly?

Ostriches cannot fly for a number of different reasons. The main reasons why these birds remain on land without taking flight include:

  • They have wings that are too small for flight
  • They are very heavy birds, which makes it extremely difficult for them to lift off the ground
  • Their breastbone is made up of a flattened sternum. Birds with the capability of flying possess a keel bone, which ostriches do not

In the past, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, ostriches were much lighter and possessed the ability to fly. But these big flightless birds are no longer genetically capable of accomplishing this feat due to their missing keel bone, extra weight, and tiny wings.

Check out this link for other birds that can’t fly.

How do ostriches run so fast?

fast running ostrich
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Even though ostriches do not have the ability to fly, they do possess tiny wings that are too small to grant them the ability to fly into the air. Their wings span roughly 2 m, which isn’t large enough for a bird of their size.

Guess what? These wings aren’t redundant like the tailbone of human beings. They actually serve an important purpose for ostriches. Their wings allow them to balance themselves and steer their bodies while running at such high speeds.

Similar to an airplane, they make subtle movements with their wings to run really fast while maintaining their balance. Eventually, human beings will likely shed their tailbone through evolution. But ostriches shouldn’t and likely will not ever lose their wings because they are so important to maintain their ability to run quickly.

Elastic legs

According to, the cheetah is the fastest land mammal. “A cheetah can run up to 120 kph. It runs faster than any other animal on the planet. The acceleration of a cheetah, 0-100 km/h in just three seconds, is just as incredible. It reaches its maximum speed in short bursts.”

So, ostriches may not be the fastest mammal in the world, but they are definitely the fastest bird in the world by a long shot. With a single stride, the ostrich can move it nearly 16 ½ feet, which is incredibly impressive, to say the least.

Why is this possible? One reason is because of their light, springy legs. And when they run, both of their feet can actually leave the ground simultaneously.

The scientific way to increase your speed there are two ways to increase your speed scientifically. They include:

  1. Lengthen your stride
  2. Increase the frequency of your steps

In the case of the ostrich, their long legs give them the ability to take longer strides, which means out of all the flightless birds, they will definitely move the quickest because their long legs propel them forward further.

Plus, the muscles and ostrich legs are located very close to their body. When compared to humans, their anatomy is different because they have smaller calf muscles but powerful upper thighs and buttocks muscles.

When compared to most other animals, they also have the ability to move and swing their legs quicker. This happens because of the closeness of their leg muscles to their body. These powerful muscles allow their long legs to move far distances very quickly.

A perfect center of gravity

When you look at the ostrich, their anatomy doesn’t necessarily scream “fast runner!” Yet, their large and bouncy rounded belly doesn’t hinder their speed whatsoever.

Their long legs designed for runners aren’t hindered whatsoever since their organs are nestled underneath their wings, kept safe and secure from harm.

In general, birds have great centers of gravity to provide flexible maneuverability. Have you ever watched a bird perched? They land effortlessly, and this has to do with their phenomenal center of gravity.

Yet, when it comes to ostriches, the placement of their wings and legs provides them with the perfect center of gravity, which is in ideal proportions. No matter how quickly they run and at whatever speed they choose, they are always balanced perfectly, even if they look like they might be out of control.

The ostrich’s approach to running is incredibly efficient. They can use their powerful leg muscles to propel them forward over long distances while remaining effortlessly balanced due to their perfect center of gravity.

Escaping Speedy Predators

image of lions depicting can an ostrich outrun a lion
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The ostrich is incredibly fast, as we’ve already learned. At their fastest, they can reach 70 km/h or 43 mph. The African antelope can reach similar speeds.

Guess what?

Some predators of the ostrich can also reach similar speeds. In fact, lions possess the ability to run 80 km/h, which is just shy of 50 mph. The leopard can run 60 km/h, which is just over 37 mph.

Many of us have theorized that ostriches need to run fast because their survival depends on it. Without the ability to run fast, they could not fully escape their predators. And since they cannot fly, they need a way to get to safety.

Ostriches love running fast because it helps them avoid the biggest predators in the wild. And they even have the ability to run long distances, which grants them the opportunity to escape packs of hungry hyenas and wild dogs that chase animals for long distances.

But wild dogs and hyenas do not have the same level of speed and endurance that ostriches possess. And that’s why ostriches can’t outrun and outlast them even over long distances.

How far can an ostrich run in a day?

Ostriches can run very far during the day, although it’s quite difficult to estimate the specific distance. There are all kinds of factors involved with distance running, so it isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to measure.

Nevertheless, here’s what we discovered:

According to, “Theoretically speaking, if an ostrich can sustain speeds of 30 mph over a 1-hour, it could cover some 180 miles in a 12-hour day with one hour’s of rest between each 1-hour running.”

Here’s the problem:

Ostriches aren’t out in the wild running around for the sake of running. They do so when they need food and water. They also do so when it’s imperative to escape from a dangerous situation.

Otherwise, it’s very difficult to determine just how far an ostrich can run during the day because ostriches do not intentionally run for long distances.

How long can an ostrich run for?

It’s well-known that ostriches have the ability to run for long distances. They can do this without stopping because these birds have incredible speed and stamina. 

If the ostrich were to maintain a steady speed of 30 mph, it could complete an entire 26-mile marathon in 40 minutes or faster.

What Birds Fly The Fastest?

Are Ostriches the fastest flying birds in the world? Heck no!

They might run fast, but they are definitely not the fastest flying birds. Click the button below to see which birds are!

Different ostrich species, Same speeds

It’s interesting to learn that there are two different species of ostriches, yet they both have the ability to run at the exact same top speed. The Common Ostrich and the Blue-Necked or Somali Ostrich both average 30-37 mph and can reach a top speed of 43 mph, which is an interesting little tidbit, to say the least. 

Did you know that at one point, there were nine different ostrich species in existence? Unfortunately, the majority of them have become extinct. But the two remaining species both live in the savannas and open grasslands of Africa.

The common ostrich has different subspecies depending on where they live in Africa. Those subspecies include:

  • South African ostrich, which lives in the southern portion of Africa
  • North African ostrich, which lives in North and West Africa
  • Masai ostrich, which lives in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda

The Somali ostriches are found in the area surrounding the Horn of Africa.

Can an ostrich run 60 mph?

No, unfortunately, an ostrich cannot run 60 mph. Its top speed is 43 mph plus.

Can an ostrich run 70 mph?

No, it makes me sad to inform you that the ostrich is not capable of running 70 mph. At its fastest speed, an ostrich can only run around 43 mph.

Ostrich Speed vs. Other Animals

There’s no question that ostriches are incredibly fast when compared to other animals. Their top speed is 70 km/h or 43 mph, depending on how you’re measuring the speed at the time.

As far as large land animals are concerned, ostriches definitely fit in the category of some of the fastest. Other land and water animals that are considered the fastest in the world include:

  • Pronghorn – 97 km/h or 60 mph
  • Cheetah – 112 km/h or 70 mph
  • Sailfish – 110 km/h or 68 mph
  • Swordfish – 100 km/h or 62 mph
  • Dall’s Porpoise – 54 km/h or 34 mph
  • Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat – 160 km/h or 100 mph
  • Golden Eagle – 322 km/h or 200 mph
  • Peregrine Falcon – 354 km/h or 220 mph

As you can clearly see, the ostrich is very quick indeed. But when compared to certain fish or birds that can fly, they actually look like slowpokes, which we know isn’t the truth.

CategoryMax. Speed (MPH)Animal
Fastest Bird220 mphPeregrine Falcon
Fastest Insect90 mphHorsefly
Fastest Fish80 mphBlack Marlin
Fastest Land Animal70 mphCheetah
Fastest-Biped Land Animal43 mphOstrich
Fastest Human Being27.33 mphUsain Bolt

Can an ostrich outrun a cheetah?

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No, unfortunately for the ostrich, it does not possess the capabilities to outrun a cheetah. At top speed, an ostrich can run 70 km/h, which equals 43 mph.

On the other hand, a cheetah can run 112 km/h at top speed. This equates to nearly 75 mph, which is incredibly fast. 

Sadly, the ostrich isn’t going to outrun a cheetah anytime soon.

Can an ostrich outrun a lion?

Lions are incredibly fast, which shouldn’t come as a major surprise to anyone. Visit your favorite video-sharing site on the web and watch videos of lions easily hunting down gazelles and other predators. Their maximum top speed is 80 km/h, which is just shy of 50 mph.

The ostrich is an incredibly fast runner as well, but it’s not as fast as a lion, even though its speeds are relatively similar. Ostriches can run 70 km/h, which is super speedy. This equals 43 mph, which we all know is very fast.

There’s only one problem. Lions can run faster than ostriches. Not by much, but they will beat them in a race for survival.

How Much Faster: Ostrich vs. Human

image of Usain Bolt
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It’s undoubtedly true that the ostrich will have no trouble outrunning human beings. Most people know this and they have come to accept this fact.

This leads us to the question on everyone’s mind. By how much can an ostrich outrun a human? The answer is quite simple:

  • Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. At top speed, he can nearly run 28 mph, or 45 km/h, and cover a 65 feet distance.
  • Ostriches, on the other hand, can run 43 mph or 70 km/h over the same distance.

Can an ostrich outrun a horse?

image of horses running
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… Ostriches can run faster than horses. An average horse can run at a speed of just 30 mph (48 km/h), while an ostrich can cover the same distance at a whopping speed of 43 mph (69 km/h). Amazing, right?

Horseriding HQ

Yes, this 300-pound bird is fast, can run incredibly long distances, and can easily run it so much faster than a horse any day of the week.

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