How Fast Can Elephants Run?

The short answer is that elephants run about 10 to 15 miles per hour (16 to 24 kilometers per hour). Some claim elephants can run over 25 mph but there is little evidence to support this, with most studies showing top speeds no greater than 15 mph.

The slightly longer answer is that elephants don’t technically run at all... or at least not like most other animals. When elephants move at high speeds it’s in a fairly unique way that has been dubbed ‘groucho running’ by researchers. This is because, unlike other animals, elephants always have at least one foot on the ground, even when moving as quickly as they can.

Generally speaking animals alter the way their legs move as they speed up, meaning there are clear differences between the animal’s running and walking footfalls. Elephants are different, they never change their footfalls, instead simply increasing their stride length and step frequency to increase their overall speed. This unusual movement pattern is surprisingly efficient when combined with the elephant’s height and size and as a result elephants only use about one third of the energy that other animals do when walking or running. This is one of the reason’s elephants are able to travel vast distances even when carrying their substantial bulk.