7 Animals That Can Run Soon After Birth

Animals That Can Run Soon After Birth

Just minutes or hours after being born, some animal babies are ready to hit the ground running – literally. Unlike helpless human infants who take nearly a year to start walking, these incredible creatures emerge from the womb ready for action. Scientists believe their early mobility boosts their odds of survival in the wild.

In this blog post guide, we will explore seven impressive animals with the ability to scamper, trot, or gallop soon after birth. For each species, we’ll highlight what enables their “hit the ground running” adaptations.

Animals That Can Run Within Hours of Birth

1. Wildebeests

About 10 minutes after being born, a newborn wildebeest calf can already stand on wobbly legs. Within 45 minutes, it starts running alongside the rest of its herd across the savannah. According to National Geographic, this early mobility helps protect vulnerable calves from hungry lions or hyenas looking for an easy meal.

2. Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles


These adorable hatchlings enter the world in a BIG hurry. Emerging from sandy nests, sea turtle babies make a frantic crawl to the ocean just minutes after cracking their shells.

Their flippers furiously flap in efforts to avoid heat exhaustion or predators before hitting the surf. Scientists with the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research say this brief land scramble is the “most dangerous time in a sea turtle’s life.”

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3. Deer


A newborn fawn can stand on its spindly legs and follow its mother almost immediately after birth. In fact, a baby deer can walk 30 minutes after emerging from the womb, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Quick mobility helps fawns escape predators stalking the forest. Their camouflaged fur with white spots also makes them tough for predators to spot.

4. Zebras


You’ve heard “a horse is born to run.” This definitely applies to zebras too. Zebra foals can stand up just 6 minutes after birth, according to San Diego Zoo. They gain the ability to gallop alongside their herd in about 2 hours . This helps protect them from lions and hyenas ready to pounce on any laggards.

5. Giraffes


Towering at 6 feet tall, giraffe calves enter the world with a literal splash. They endure a 5-6 foot fall from their mother’s womb to the ground! Yet Baby Giraffe’s Legs comments that these gangly infants can stand within an hour and take their first wobbly steps soon after.

Given their impressive height, it’s crucial giraffes develop strong, specialized leg muscles and ligaments quickly.

6. Elephants


The world’s largest land mammal gives birth to babies weighing 200-300 pounds. Yet newborn elephants find their footing fast, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

They can stand on their stumpy legs about 30 minutes after their grand entrance. Elephant calves can travel short distances near the herd after a few days. This helps them closely follow the group to graze and access water sources.

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7. Polar Bears

Polar Bears

Fluffy and helpless…polar bear cubs might seem like odd contenders for this list. However, they join their lightning fast peers shortly after emerging from the den at about 3 months old.

Polar Bear International notes cubs will venture outside the den briefly at 1- 2 months if conditions allow. Given the challenging climate polar bears inhabit, quick cold weather conditioning helps cubs survive.

The “Newborn’s Dilemma”

Why can some infant animals literally hit the tracks racing soon after birth? Bio-anthropologist David Carrier suggests it relates to the “Newborn’s Dilemma” — fitting a big head through a narrow birth canal.

Species like giraffes, elephants and humans have addressed this dilemma by giving birth to babies in an early developmental stage. This ensures they can squeeze through tight spaces during delivery.

The tradeoff is newborns of these species arrive incredibly helpless compared to other animals. They require extensive, time-consuming care until they mature and reach milestones like walking.

Species like horses or wildebeests evolved to give birth to more mature babies so they exit the womb ready to meet survival challenges. We humans certainly drew the short straw having to tediously wait for our babies to walk!

In Summary

A newborn fawn standing on stick legs. A hatchling sea turtle’s determined crawl. The first wobbly steps of a gangly baby giraffe. While these scenes look precarious, many animals evolved incredible capabilities to be mobile shortly after birth.

Fast development equips vulnerable babies to better survive surroundings rife with risk. Next time you watch infants of other species find their footing soon after birth, appreciate it’s no accident. Carefully orchestrated adaptations enable their ability to literally “hit the ground running.”