When we talk of speed in the animal kingdom, our minds quickly race to the supersonic likes of cheetahs and hares. But reptiles are also impressively fast. Such speed is vital not in evading predators but also in sourcing food.
The perentie and the leatherback sea turtle are the two fastest reptiles alive. Perenties can reach top speeds of 25 mph, while the leatherback can get to 22 mph. The black mamba is the fastest snake alive, with its slithering speed reaching 12 mph. While these speeds are impressive, they pale in comparison to the fastest mammals. For context, the cheetah can reach speeds of 70mph. Also, Usain Bolt, one of the fastest human sprinters in history, once reached 27.33mph in speed.
This doesn’t in any way take away from the remarkable speeds of reptiles, especially given their structure and environment. Care to know the fastest reptiles alive?
Top 9 Fastest Reptiles
The Black Mamba is one of the deadliest snakes alive, with just two drops of its venom enough to an adult human.
Black mambas are predominantly domiciled in sub-Saharan Africa. At times reaching 14.8ft, the Black Mamba is the longest among venomous snakes in the sub-Saharan region.
This snake is incredibly fast when slithering on suitable surfaces, reaching 12.5mph. When on the ground, black mambas slither with elevated heads and necks.
Komodo dragons derive their name from their primary terrain, the Indonesian Islands of Komodo. They prefer to live in arid and hot regions of Gili, Rinca, and Motang.
This lizard species count among the biggest alive, profoundly demonstrating island gigantism. They can get as long as 10ft and as heavy as 201lb.
While the Komodo dragon is large, it is anything but slow. It can run at 13mph at top speeds, diving up as high as 15ft.
When you hear the word runner in this lizard species’ name, you know these are not guys to easily dust in a race.
The six-lined racerunner’s natural habitats span from Wyoming to southern Texas, spreading through the Great Plains sitting south of Florida. There are also substantial populations of the Six-lined Racerunner in Tamaulipas, northern Mexico.
These lizard species are really fast, reaching speeds of 18mph. Thanks to such speed, they almost magically disappear anytime you approach them.
As characteristic of whiptail lizards, the six-lined racerunner feeds on insects and is more active during the day.
Yes, these dragons are renowned for the beards sitting under their throats. These beards play a critical communication role and are often deployed in defense.
When a bearded dragon perceives a threat, it expands its beard as it opens to mouth to exaggerate its size and possibly scare off the predator.
Bearded dragons are more common in Australia, savoring the savannas, deserts, and woodlands. Bearded dragons are among the fastest lizards alive, reaching speeds of 25mph.
The freshwater crocodile commands horror and fright at first sight. With jaws that can deliver an intimidating bite force of 5,000 lbs/sq.inch, this is not the guy you want to meet in water or on land.
In full gallop on land, freshwater crocodiles can run faster than many of us. They can reach speeds of 10.5mph. Not every crocodile species can execute a full gallop move.
On the ground, freshwater crocodiles commonly run on bellies – unless threatened. They are slower on their bellies, reaching speeds of 7.4mph at most.
Freshwater crocodiles are even faster in water. In such freshwater habitats, their swimming speeds can reach 12.4 mph.
Traditionally, turtles are coated with a bony shell. But the leatherback turtle is one interesting exception to this rule.
In place of such shell, the leatherback has skin combined with oil flesh.
That said, the leatherback turtle is quite a big guy for its speed.
Capable of growing as long as 6.5 feet and even as heavy as 2000lbs, the leatherback is the biggest turtle species alive.
It is also the second-largest (and eight heaviest) reptile alive. For such an enormous size, the leatherback is yet remarkably fast.
In water, they can swim as fast as 22mph. This is far more than the average turtle speed, sitting at 6.3mph.
The Perentie is the fourth largest lizard globally, coming behind the Komodo dragon, Water Monitor, and the Tree Crocodile.
Nonetheless, it is the largest lizard Australia can boast of.
The Perentie is a top contestant for the fastest reptile alive. At full speed, the Perentie can reach 25mph. But this lizard owes its speed to more than a pair of rapid limbs.
Perenties can reach such speeds due to their rare capacity to contract and expand neck sides as they run.
Such bellowing creates substantial amounts of air transported into the lungs to sustain the perentie at such speeds.
Green iguanas are indigenous to South and Central America. They are also prominently resident in the Caribbean.
Green Iguanas boast an uncommon ability to vary their color to that of their surroundings. The green iguana can change from red to green to orange and many other colors, depending on the color of where they find themselves.
They rarely grow beyond 6.6ft but are super-fast. Just like perenties, green iguanas can reach speeds of 25mph.
The last thing you can wish for is an alligator chasing you. As scary as it sounds, alligators can reach speeds of 30mph when running short bursts.
In these bursts, the alligator is frightfully fast with speedy acceleration. If you are within 10 feet of it when running in such short bursts, chances are very high the alligator would catch you.
Nevertheless, alligators don’t have high tolerance and can barely put up such speeds for long. As opposed to short bursts, the alligator would have to drop speed to conserve stamina in continuous running.
An alligator’s speed ranges between 10-11mph in such continuous running. Alligators are generally sedentary.