How Fast Can a Black Panther Run?

Black panthers are among the most mysterious creatures in the wild. The black coats that render them almost invisible in the dark paired with their talent for ambush make them one of the sneakiest, deadliest predators in the wild. 

Their ability to catch prey off guard is beyond compare, which may lead one to wonder: How fast do these dark creatures move?


Black Panthers and their Speed

The black panther can run at incredible speed but just how fast it can run depends on the species of the black panther that you are referring to.

Black panther is a collective term used to refer to melanistic versions of leopards (Panthera pardus) and jaguar (Panthera onca). They are black or dark-colored due to the overproduction of the pigment melanin.

They are not considered a separate species but are instead grouped because of their highly similar appearance and coloring. 


Leopards can run at a maximum speed of around 36 mph. There have even been tales of their rates reaching greater velocities.

This speed is made possible by the leopard’s build. These proud predators have long, muscular legs capable of great powerful thrusts that propel the leopard to reach even greater speeds.

The leopard also prefers to make long strides or leaps that allow it to cover more ground with just one movement. This powerful cat can cover up to 20 feet with just one jump.


Jaguars can reach speeds of just below 50 mph.

These cats are considered the biggest cats in the Americas and rank as the third-largest cat on Earth. They can reach lengths of up to 6 feet. Their size and length alone can already give you an idea about how much ground it can cover in one stride.

Like leopards, these big cats attribute their incredible speed to their sturdy builds and muscular strength to propel themselves to cover greater distances in a single movement. 

Where do Black Panthers use Their Speed?

We have established just how fast these black cats can move. But where does this speed come in handy for them? 

  • Hunting: Black panthers are predatory creatures and greatly rely on their ability to move fast when hunting for food. Despite their speed, these big cats tend to target prey which can move at higher speeds than they do. This is why they mix their natural speed with their talent to ambush.

    Panthers hunt by sneaking up to their prey and closing the distance between them as much as possible. Once they’re close enough, they use their speed to pounce and catch their prey before it has time to react.

    However, there are times where the prey can realize of the black panther’s presence and try to run away sooner than expected. This forces the predator to fully utilize its speed and begin chasing until it catches its prey.
  • Evading Threats and other Predators: Both leopards and jaguars are apex predators and sit at the top of the food chain without much worry. However, these big cats may occasionally hunt in territories with other, stronger predators.

    Should this be the case, the stronger predator may initiate conflict over the available resources. Leopards can find themselves at the mercy of tigers, lions, and other leopards. On the other hand, jaguars tend to keep a lookout for other jaguars, anacondas, and caimans. Both cats are also under serious threat from humans.

    While the black panthers certainly have enough strength to put up a good fight, they can sometimes get overwhelmed. Here, their speed is put to good use as their quick reflexes, and fast movements confuse predators, allowing them to escape to safety. 


Black panthers can move at speeds that can overwhelm even the most elusive animals. However, it’s not all about their speed, but how they use it, that makes them among the most feared predators in the wild. 

While they may not be the fastest of the big cats out there, they still deserve respect as some of the mightiest creatures to walk the face of the earth.