The Greater Roadrunner is a very fast runner, reaching top speeds of more than 17 miles per hour. The roadrunner uses its speed primarily to defend its large territory and chase after prey, which includes rodents, lizards and insects.
The speed of roadrunners serves other purposes as well. The bird can use it to flush out prey or use it as a momentum to jump and catch insects, hummingbirds and bats for food. Its speed likewise serves as a means of escape from its predators, which includes hawks, house cats and skunks. The coyote is also a predator of roadrunners; contrary to what is depicted in "Looney Tunes" cartoons, the coyote can easily run down the roadrunner with top speeds of 43 miles an hour.