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Have you ever wanted to know about the fastest animals in Arkansas? From majestic birds of prey to grateful land mammals — this state is full of incredible creatures! Each one has developed unique adaptations to move faster than its competition.
If you’re ready for an adrenaline rush or want to learn more about Arkansas’ wildlife, you’re in the right place. Come on a journey to meet some of the fastest animals around! Get ready — here we go!
Adaptations for Speed
How do the fastest animals in Arkansas reach such amazing speeds? It all comes down to the adaptations they have developed over time. For example, some creatures can easily lift their wings and glide through the air. Others might have longer legs and powerful muscles for running faster than their prey.
The adaptations that allow these animals to reach such blistering speeds vary, but some of the more common ones include the following:
Powerful muscles: Mammals like pronghorn antelopes have incredibly powerful leg muscles that can generate a lot of force quickly, allowing them to sprint at high speeds.
Streamlined bodies: Birds and other animals have slender, aerodynamic bodies that help reduce air resistance. At the same time, they move, allowing them to travel faster.
Large wingspan: The larger a bird’s wingspan is compared to its body weight, the easier it is for them to take flight and maintain speed while gliding.
Powerful cardiovascular systems are another adaptation that allows many of Arkansas’ swift animals to reach their impressive speeds. Animals like the pronghorn antelope, for example, possess a larger-than-average heart and set of lungs.
The American peregrine falcon is one of the fastest animals in Arkansas and in the world. The peregrine falcon is gaining notoriety for having one of the fastest recorded dives by any bird — with an estimated terminal velocity close to 200 mph!
Under ideal conditions, this powerful species can reach even higher speeds when in a stoop hunting on the wing. Some experiments suggest speeds up to 242 mph are a possibility. Such speed and agility make it difficult for other birds to escape this falcon’s clutches!
Peregrine falcons have a varied diet that mostly consists of birds they’ve captured in flight. These birds range from feral pigeons, woodpigeons, blackbirds, and starlings to black-headed gulls. They’ll also hunt small mammals like rabbits and sometimes carrion if necessary. Typically, peregrine falcons hunt during dawn and dusk.
Northern Harrier Hawk
Have you ever seen a northern harrier hawk? The northern harrier has been seen reaching speeds of up to 25 mph in level flight. It’s not as speedy as the peregrine falcon, but 25 mph is still fast for zipping through the sky!
These fast birds are the most owl-like of all hawks. They have disc-shaped faces and movements similar to owls. But oddly enough, they’re not related to owls at all.
Harriers are skilled hunters on the ground. They fly low over fields and marshes, scanning for small animals or listening for their prey. Males can do impressive barrel rolls in the sky to court females!
Did you know that the Northern Harrier Hawk is a great friend to farmers? Like barn owls, they help keep pesky rodents away from crops. This helps protect farmers’ investments and keeps their harvest safe!
This helpful hawk has had a long time to perfect its flying skills. Would you believe that the Northern Harrier Hawk fossils have been discovered in northern Mexico, dating back to 11,000 – 40,000 years ago? Remarkable!
The American bald eagle is another of Arkansas’s fast flyers of the sky. Bald eagles are well-known for their majestic beauty and their powerful flight. They can reach up to 30 mph in level flight and 100 mph during a stoop dive. They can comfortably soar at 10,000 feet or more, riding thermal updrafts. With wingspans measuring up to eight feet, these birds are an impressive sight soaring through the sky.
Bald eagles are breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly efficient hunters. With specialized adaptations like their incredible eyesight, large talons, and a hooked beak, they have all the tools to find, catch and devour their prey.
When hunting, these majestic birds soar high above the ground or sit perched, looking out over the water. Once its target is located, the eagle dives in with a gradual incline. They attack prey using their strong talons to deliver a vice-like killing grip. Even more impressive is bald eagles can fly off carrying their meal, sometimes weighing up to half as much as themselves!
Regarding land-dwelling mammals, one clear winner stands out above all else: the pronghorn antelope. This graceful animal has been clocked running at speeds upward of 60 mph and can sustain high speeds over long distances.
The pronghorn is one of North America’s fastest land mammals. They live in open, grassy plains and shrublands, which helps them move great distances in a short amount of time. With their ability to reach such high speeds, pronghorn antelope are truly legendary runners of the animal kingdom!
Pronghorn are ungulates (hoofed animals), related to goats and antelope, and have the body shape of a deer with long legs, short tails, and a long snout. They come in various colors ranging from reddish-brown to tan or darker brown. White stripes on their necks and additional white markings on the face, stomach, and rump add to their unique look. The most interesting feature might be the extra-long white hairs on the pronghorn’s rump. The hair will raise straight up when it feels scared!
Although they are often referred to as antelope, they are not true antelope. They are the only modern members of the Antilocapridae family. At the same time, all other horned ungulates in North America belong to the Bovidae family.
With extraordinary lungs that boast five times the surface area of other mammals, pronghorns can absorb substantially more oxygen. Likewise, their hearts are three times larger than average. They can efficiently propel a much greater volume of blood throughout the body. The increased oxygen intake allows their muscles to work better. This lets them reach maximum speeds quickly!
Gray and Red Foxes
Arkansas is also home to a lot of red and gray foxes. And these creatures are pretty quick!
Gray foxes can trot at speeds of 28 mph. These furballs are also known as “tree foxes.” Thanks to their strong leg muscles, they climb trees effortlessly.
Gray foxes are fairly common in Arkansas but can still be tricky to spot in the wild. These nocturnal creatures only occasionally forage for food during the day, especially when there are little ones to feed.
When running, red foxes can reach speeds of 26 mph. However, they prefer to take things slow. More often than not, red foxes walk instead of running. They prefer well-defined trails to use their long legs and endurance effectively.
Bobcats are one of the most impressive predators to be found in Arkansas. These fast and feisty creatures can reach up to 30 mph when sprinting! Bobcats prefer wooded areas or forest openings near water sources, such as wetlands or creeks. Yet they are also known to live near residential areas as long as there is enough hiding cover.
This fantastic wild cat has the largest range and is also the most abundant of all cats in North America! As a result, these agile felines can be found from southern Canada to northern Mexico. They are incredible predators who use their sharp claws, muscular bodies, and powerful jaws to take down small animals like rats, rabbits, and squirrels.
If you’re lucky enough to spot a bobcat in the wild, it may look like a large tabby housecat. But don’t be fooled! They have thick fur that ranges from sandy grayish-brown to reddish-brown with black spotting on the back and sides. One of the cat’s most distinguishing features is its short bobbed tail.
A cougar’s favorite thing to sprint after? Deer! They keep the state’s deer population in check, helping to maintain a healthy balance in the habitat. Cougars also enjoy hunting and eating other small animals, such as raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, and skunks.
What sets the cougar apart from other predators is its extraordinary jumping abilities! Cougars can jump 20 feet high and as far as 40 feet horizontally. Think tree limb to tree limb or from one hill to the next. It is truly an impressive sight!
Are there bears in Arkansas? Yes, indeed! And they’re one of the fastest animals in Arkansas.
The American black bear is the specific type of bear in Arkansas. As omnivores, they have a varied diet. Their favorites include acorns, nuts, and berries. They can also become quite opportunistic when it comes to finding food. Black bears are known for entering neighborhoods during trash day and helping themselves to the buffet!
Black bears are quite fast on their feet and can reach speeds up to 35 mph. However, they prefer to use their speed sparingly and rely more on camouflage and patience when hunting. When a bear does decide to run, its powerful legs can carry it on a very fast and long distance. In short bursts, these agile animals can easily outrun any human or even a dog!
Did you know that a feral hog can run between 25 and 30 miles per hour? And that’s not all—they can quickly jump over fences less than three feet tall and climb out of holes up to five or six feet deep!
Feral hogs may appear slow and lumbering, but their speed can be quite impressive when they sense danger. Check out this article about a coyote vs. a feral hog, and you’ll see what we mean.
Unfortunately, Arkansas is no stranger to feral hogs. These wild animals have become an increasing nuisance in the state, causing crop damage, polluting water sources, and competing with native wildlife. They can be a threat to people too.
Feral hogs are incredible runners and can easily outpace a human if necessary! Avoiding them in the wild is always best. If you’re in Arkansas and spot a wild pig coming your way, get away as fast as you can. If it still follows, try to climb a tree.
Have you ever heard of black-footed ferrets? These curious creatures can reach speeds of 15 mph, darting through intricate tunnel systems.
In terms of physical characteristics, this ferret typically weighs between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds and can grow up to 24 inches. Most interestingly, though, they have a striking strip of dark fur across their eyes, giving them the appearance of wearing a mask!
What else makes these little fuzzballs so special? They are shaped like tubes of muscle. Their neck has the same circumference as their hips!
When hunting prey, black-footed ferrets are swift, bold, and agile — darting through extensive underground burrows of colonies with ease. They quickly capture and devour prairie dogs every few days — usually at night when they come out to hunt. You won’t often find these mischievous mammals during the day, as they prefer to stay hidden from predators.
The coyote is found throughout Arkansas and is a very adaptable animal. It feeds on small rodents, rabbits, and carrion, which it can often find by scavenging. It can reach speeds of up to 43 mph when necessary.
Compared to their wolf cousins, coyotes in Arkansas are much smaller. About the size of a medium-sized dog, these wild canids typically weigh anywhere between 10 to 40 pounds. Their thick fur is usually colored brown and gray. In Arkansas, coyotes usually sport a more yellowish-gray to reddish-brown coat.
Frequently referred to as “song dogs,” coyotes are known for their passionate yipping and yelping reverberating through the night sky. Unfortunately, they’ve faced many threats from humans in the past, such as hunting and trapping. Still, the species has adapted and continues to thrive in the wild. They are an essential part of the local ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations in check.
Trout are some of the fastest fish in Arkansas. It’s all thanks to their caudal fin, the tail fin. This powerful fin propels them to swim at a fantastic rate of speed — up to 23 mph in one second! In that time, they can cover as much as 33 feet. Their ability to go from zero to 100 is how they catch prey or escape predators.
Trout aren’t native to Arkansas, but the state is famous for its fantastic trout fisheries! In the late 40s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dams on several rivers to help control floods and generate hydroelectric power. They stocked these rivers with trout to compensate for lost warm water fisheries.
Today, more than 1.5 million trout call Arkansas home. You can find rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, golden rainbow trout, and even tiger trout in the fisheries. While some of these species can reproduce naturally, most are still sustained by stocking each year.
Fastest Animals in Arkansas: Discovered
Of course, this article didn’t cover all of the fastest animals in Arkansas. The state’s also home to super speedy alligators, flitting hummingbirds, and more!
But now you know a little more about Arkansas’s most popular speedsters. From the majestic cougar to the opportunistic black bear, all the way to our beloved song dog – the coyote.
Each species has unique adaptations that allow it to reach impressive speeds. A highly evolved cardiovascular system allows the pronghorn antelope to reach its unmatchable top speed of 60 mph. For the black-footed ferret, years of evolution have honed its ability to slink quickly through intricate burrows. And remember the peregrine falcon! Its wingspan, structure, and aerodynamics make it one of the fastest animals in the world.
Learning about nature’s speedsters is fascinating and a great way to appreciate the outdoors. So, next time you’re out in Arkansas, keep an eye out for these incredible animals — you never know when you’ll spot one cruising by.