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How Fast Can Your Rabbit Run?

Nicole Cosgrove

Does your pet rabbit enjoy spending most of its days lazily lounging around your home? If so, this is a good sign for how well you’re caring for it: Most rabbits will only be very alert, active, and running if they feel threatened or endangered.

This might make you wonder: How fast can your rabbit run? So today, we’ll be looking at statistics and records for both wild and domesticated rabbits, as well as the closely related wild hare. By the end of this article, you’ll know just how fast your rabbit could run if it ever felt motivated to – and it’s likely faster than you think!


How Fast Can Wild Rabbits Run?

Cottontail rabbits are by far the most common wild North American rabbits. Because of their status as prey animals, the cottontails have evolved over time to be extremely quick and agile. This lets them easily avoid predators by running at full speed, jumping at a moment’s notice, and turning on a dime.

According to Speed of Animals, the wild rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is able to run at an astonishing top speed of nearly 30 miles per hour! These wild rabbits rarely weigh more than 4 pounds and are generally seen at about 1.5 feet long. This means that if humans could run as fast as a rabbit relative to their bodyweight, we would be running at almost 120 miles per hour – truly astonishing.

wild rabbit
Image: Pexels

How Fast Can Pet Rabbits Run?

While it might be tempting to think that wild rabbits are better prepared for fast runs, the domestic rabbit is no slouch, either. Though they seldom need to use their considerable speed, some sources say that a domestic rabbit is able to reach top speeds of 35 miles per hour – a full 5 miles per hour faster than the wild cottontail.

Rabbits for Dummies, by Connie Isbell and Audrey Pavia, says that when pet rabbits feel entirely safe and comfortable, they’ll often use their defense mechanisms for amusement and play. For house rabbits, this can mean running at full speed up and down your hallways, just for fun! With two or more rabbits, you’re also likely to see them chase after each other, taking turns chasing and being chased.

How Fast Can Hares Run?

Though they look very similar, wild hares and rabbits are a degree separated on the evolutionary tree. Descended from more giant ancestors, wild hares and jackrabbits have the highest top speed of all rabbits: A blistering 45 miles per hour!

Their powerful hind legs make them especially well adapted to sprinting and jumping, but they’re not able to keep it up for a very long time. No, hares are built for speed – not endurance. When chased by predators, they will alternate all-out sprints with acrobatic leaps, changing direction in midair while they zig-zag away from their pursuers.


Final Thoughts on How Fast Rabbits Can Run

If you’re like us, you were probably surprised to learn just how fast a pet rabbit can run! Their powerful hind legs have been developed over hundreds of generations to keep them safe from predators – or, when they’re safe and comfortable, have tremendous fun running up and down your hallways. So, the next time your bunny is sleeping their day away, just know that they’ve still got a lot of running left to do later!

Featured Image: Porsupah Ree, Flickr

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.