A gallop is basically the fastest running movement of a four-legged animal. Horses and ponies are often associated with the word ‘gallop’, yet, they are not the only animals that gallop. Herbivores such as antelope, camels, giraffes, and buffalo gallop too, in a three-step gait like horses.
However, the herbivore’s gallop is not the only type of gallop that can be seen in four-legged animals. Carnivores, rodents, and even swine gallop too! Their type of gallop is called a rotatory gallop and it can be seen in the way dogs and cats run.
Animals That Gallop
- House Cat
Antelopes are one of the most widespread animals in the world. These galloping animals come in various species and run with the three-beat gallop.
The movement of a running antelope is determined by whether it is running to get from one place to another or avoiding becoming lunch for some other animal. When running for survival, often, the antelope will gallop in a zig-zag motion.
Each species of antelope has its maximum speed. For example, a springbok common to the African savannah can gallop at a speed of up to 88km/h (54 miles per hour), whereas a Pronghorn antelope more common to Northern America can gallop at a speed of up to 98km/h (60 miles per hour).
Hippos are also animals that gallop at a three-beat gait. They are not readily associated with speed due to their large size.
However, these semi-aquatic animals live on land and water and while on land can run to speeds of about 48 km/h (almost 30 miles per hour) on the ground. That is almost three times the speed of an average human being.
What makes this fact even more fascinating is that the average hippo weighs about 1, 500 – 1,800Kg (that is more than 3,300 pounds!). In contrast, the fastest recorded speed of a human being was about 27 miles per hour by Usain Bold who ran 100meters in 9.58seconds and weighed less than 100kg.
Camels gallop in a three-step gait. Thanks to animations, the image of a camel is a funny-faced, slow-paced, spitting, load-bearing animal crossing the desert.
However, these desert traversing dromedaries are capable of running at a surprisingly speedy gallop. They can reach up speeds of up to 65km/h (40miles per hour) when running in short bursts at a time.
Interestingly, when running for longer periods of time, this speed comes down to about 40km/h (about 24 miles per hour), but, they can sustain continuously for about an hour.
Read Also: List of Prey Animals
House cats are known to be independent creatures that spend most of their time asleep (12-16hours) and cleaning themselves. Their run is classified among the rotatory gallopers.
For all the time they spend sleeping, it has been observed that a regular house cat can spontaneously bolt at a speed of 48km/h (30miles per hour).
Do not be fooled however, runs at these speeds are not usually voluntary, they are frequently motivated by other circumstances, such as a dog chasing the cat, or perhaps a potential snack on the run, in the form of a mouse.
Giraffes are known for their long necks that reach the tops of trees when feeding. These long-neck animals run in a three-beat gallop.
When watching a giraffe run at first it would seem like the animal is galloping in slow motion due to its very long legs. What is not evident at the onset is that their long legs enable them to cover a larger distance per stride.
Giraffes can run flat out up to speeds of 60km/h (37miles per hour). However, they cannot sustain a dash for too long, as they have very long windpipes, which makes them run out of breath rather quickly.
Another rotatory galloper animal is the cheetah. Native to both Africa and central Iran, this speedy wild feline is said to be able to run between 80-128km/h (about 50 – 74.5 miles per hour), the most accurate recordings of speed ranging between 93 and 98km/h (57-60 miles per hour).
The speed in their gallop has often been attributed to the cheetah’s streamlined build. It is a lightweight, lean cat weighing in at between 21-72kilos (about 46-158pounds) compared to some of its feline counterparts, like the lion and tiger, which way upwards of 100kilos (220 pounds).
The lion does indeed weigh much more than a cheetah. The male’s weight ranges from 160-225kg (350-496pounds), depending on whether he lives in India, East, or South Africa. A rotatory galloper, this big cat can run speeds of up to 80km/h (about 50miles per hour) in short bursts.
A male lion’s heart cannot withstand long-distance running as it makes up less than 0.5% of the total animal’s body weight. This is why the lion will stalk its prey until it is close enough to potentially capture the prey without having to run for too long. Many a lion loses its prey if the prey senses danger early enough.
Related: Animals That Walk On Two Legs
Leopards are another rotatory galloping wild cats that are often confused with cheetahs. Leopards generally weigh less than cheetahs, coming in at 23-31kg (50-68 pounds), but despite their lighter bodyweight, they are slower.
Their gallop gets them up to speeds of about 58km/h (36 miles per hour). This is due to their legs having more muscle and their paws being larger.
These felines are given to spending their downtime in trees and have strong jaws which they use to carry their kills with them, all the way up the trees, where they consume them a little at a time.
Our last members on our list of animals that gallop are hyenas. Contrary to the portrayal of this creature as cowardly and opportunistic in The Lion King, the spotted hyena species will hunt about 95% of their kills and will bring down large animals that are several times their size.
Although small in stature and light in weight, weighing an average of 40-64kgs (88- 141pounds). Its gallop brings it to speeds of up to 64km/h, which is a little over 39miles per hour.
What makes them successful apart from their numbers is their hunting strategy that revolves around endurance, a slow wearing down of their prey until it has no fight left.