How fast do Lions run?

Question: How fast do Lions run?

Lions have been known to reach speeds of up to 50mph/80kmph!

The lion is ranked as the second fastest animal in Africa, coming in as “runner-up” (pun intended) only to the Cheetah.

Lions run with short, sharp bursts of energy and are built for strength and power, not endurance. You could say they are sprinters, not marathon runners.

Let’s learn more about how Lions run so fast.

What do you immediately think about when you imagine a lion? Does your mind jump to the strong yet lazy big cat, lounging on a rock and basking in the sun? Or the focused and powerful, deadly lion stalking its prey in the long grasses of the Savannah? 

I imagine the large lazy lion, lolling around in the heat of the mid-day sunshine and making the most of a relatively carefree life. As an animal lover throughout my life, I have always had an interest in these big, beautiful cats. While these animals look majestic and, dare I say it – even cuddly, in their natural habitat; we cannot afford to be fooled however by their deceptively cute ears, for they belie the deadly teeth and ferocious claws hidden underneath. 

That being said, pondering these amazing big cats would lead you to consider other questions about these creatures.

  • What do they eat?
  • How do they hunt?
  • How loud is their roar? 

This article will look directly at how fast lions can run, and how their bodies move to help them reach these high speeds.

How Fast Do They Run?

Lions can run at speeds of up to 50 mph / 80 kmph, which is very fast considering their size.

While they are sleek and aerodynamic to a certain extent, they are also quite heavy, which can make it difficult to run fast over a long distance.

Lions rely on their camouflaged appearance to stalk their prey and pounce when the opportunity arises. They have been known to leap up to 10 meters, which is about 30 feet!

Who runs the most, Male or Female Lions?

The female lions tend to do all the hunting (and therefore all the running) for the pride. The lionesses are usually smaller and lighter than their male counterparts. As a result, they are quicker and more adept at chasing and hunting. They are also not weighed down or easily spotted due to the iconic mane that surrounds the head of a male lion.

How Lions Bodies Help Them To Run

These creatures can reach differing lengths, weights and heights depending on whether they are male or female. Lions can be up to and over 2m in length and a particularly big adult male can weigh up to and above 230kg, or 480lbs. In context, this is more than the average person’s living room sofa!

Lions have four strong and muscular limbs, a flexible spinal cord and a long tail for balance. The interesting thing about lions is their forelimbs and paws. They have increased movement among the bones in their paws and forelimbs that allows them to diversify their movement when accelerating.

They use what is known as a “Rotary Gallop”. This is a well-known method used to achieve high-velocity power and aids the lion in being faster even than a Racing Thoroughbred Horse. 

Through using the rotary gallop method, lions lift their limbs from the ground and land to propel themselves forward in a circular motion. This does not mean however that they run in circles; but imagine that they land first with their front right paw, followed by landing the front left, then land their back left paw followed by the back right. This motion continues as the lion runs, showing that their paws lift and land on the ground in a rotary pattern. 

They lift their hind paws forward and coil themselves like a spring ready to burst free. They then use their robust hindlimbs to propel themselves forward with impressive control and acceleration. Lions can reach their top speed in only a few feet using this burst of power method. 


You wanted to know how fast do lions run, so as we said, a lion can run up to 50mph, or 80kmph.

This impressive speed is reached by their incredible strength and power, coupled with the rotary gallop method. The males tend to be slower than the females as they can be heavier, and as a result the females typically do all the hunting for the pride. 

Rest assured however, that no matter how lazy and relaxed a lion may be while lolling in the daylight, as soon the sun dips to hide behind the horizon, they become the fiercely strong, powerful, and incredibly fast animals that live up to their name as the King of the Jungle. 

Frequently Asked Questions

People who ask ‘How fast do Lions run?‘ also ask;

Do female lions run faster than male lions

Yes, typically female lions run faster than the male lions are they are smaller and lighter, better enabling them to pick up speed. 

Are lions the fastest animals in the world? 

No, Lions, while being extremely fast, are not the fastest animals in the world. They are second on land to the Cheetah. Cheetah’s have been known to reach speeds of 75mph or 120kmph.

How fast can lion cubs run? 

Lion cubs are substantially smaller than their parents and as such, cannot run nearly as fast. Cubs tend to reach maturity around 3 or 4 years of age, but will be able to run as quickly as their parents at around 2 years old. 

How would you survive a lion attack?

The best advice one can give for meeting a lion in the wild is do not run. The fastest human on the planet (Usain Bolt) can run 27kmph. A lion can run 80kmph… A lion would outrun you without even breaking a sweat. Your best bet may be to stand your ground, make yourself as big as you can (arms waving above your head), and shout as loud as possible – This could make the lion think that perhaps you are more trouble than you are worth. 

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