Amaze-wing Animals That Fly: Wildlife Facts To Make You Soar

Gurpuneet Kaur
Mar 03, 2023 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Oct 24, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Interesting facts about the flying animals in the world.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

Who doesn't wish they could fly up high and conquer the sky?

Unfortunately, we human beings can only fly by traveling either in an airplane, hot air balloon, or a rocket. But don't be disappointed, you can still enjoy learning about the fantastic animals that fly.

Most of us might wonder why birds, insects, and bats are the only wildlife creatures found flying in the sky. However, nature never fails to amaze us. There are various things beyond our imagination, but yes, they exist. You might be surprised to know various mammals, snakes, fish, and Extinct pterosaurs can also fly. Since flying is different from gliding, every wildlife creature needs wings to fly in the air.

Several creatures can glide through the air as gliding animals do not need wings to float. They glide using various body parts. Gliding animals or volant animals have evolved from flying animals. Few wildlife creatures like flying squirrels, squid, flying fish, Wallace's flying frogs, ballooning spiders, Draco lizards, lemurs, colugos, flying phalangers, gliding snakes, and paradise tree snakes are known to defy the law of gravity with their ability to fly. These are some of the volant animals that are neither classified as birds nor have functioning wings.

Are you ever confused about how an animal can fly without wings? While a flying fish uses its pectoral fins, a flying squirrel glides due to the presence of a furry membrane of skin stretching from its wrists to ankles. This membrane acts as a parachute when the squirrel spreads its limbs after it jumps. Likewise, every species uses a different and unique technique to fly and is assisted by a specific body part that controls its speed, direction, and height during its flight.

A flying animal does not always refer to birds. The flying animal can be any wildlife creature that has evolved to fly. A peregrine falcon is the fastest flying animal with a flight speed as high as 200 mph (322 kph). Although humans cannot fly with our bodies, we can invent airplanes capable of flying even faster than the fastest flying animal. Are you wondering how fast an airplane moves? An airplane flies at a speed of 460-575 mph (740-925 kph). It is almost two times the speed of the fastest flying animal, a peregrine falcon.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about animals that hibernate and animals that lay eggs here on Kidadl?

How do animals fly?

A flying animal uses its wings to fly for extended periods without any other help. Wings are quite necessary for a flying animal to soar higher. What are the common species found flying? Birds, insects, and bats. All these species have wings.

Even though wings are essential to flight, not every creature with wings can fly either. An Emu has wings but cannot fly and instead can be found running due to the presence of its strong legs. Likewise, an ostrich too favors running on the ground, with its speed ranging up to 31 mph (50 kph). While there are several species of penguins, none of them can fly. A kiwi is yet another bird species with tiny wings, but the wings are not strong enough to support flight. Various wildlife creatures do not have wings but can still move through the air by either gliding or powered flight.

Powered flights use the aerodynamic force generated by muscles, whereas an animal glides with specific body parts. Although gliding through the air can be pretty challenging without wings, species like the flying squirrel, flying squid, and flying fish manage to do it quite well. Other animals capable of gliding through the air include Wallace's flying frog, Ballooning spider, Draco lizard, Flying lemur, Colugo, Flying phalanger, Gliding snake, and Paradise tree snake. Animals that fly without wings often glide through the air and are known as gliding animals.

A flying fish uses its torpedo-shaped body and a large tail to build momentum underwater as they approach the surface. It has been recorded to cover the maximum distance of 650 ft (198 m) by beating its pectoral fins like wings while leaping out from the water's surface.

A flying squid inhabiting the waters of Southeast Asia is known to glide through jet propulsion. Flying fish and squid are among the animals that can fly and swim.

Similarly, Wallace's flying frog has large webbed feet and suction pads. While it glides from tree to tree using its large webbed feet, suction pads provide a firm grip when it lands. Draco lizards usually glide to escape predators and to chase other lizards from the trees.

A flying squirrel has a membrane between its forelegs and hind legs that is revealed by stretching its limbs. A flying squirrel from North America uses their membrane like a parachute to jump and glide through the trees. Likewise, a Colugo, yet another flying animal, uses its flaps of skin called patagium to soar in the air. Different flying animals have evolved in unique ways to move through the air.

What are animals that can fly called?

An animal that flies is called an aerial or flying animal, whereas an animal that glides is called a gliding animal. Are you confused about the difference between flying and gliding? While flying is closely associated with air, animals can glide through the air, water, and land.

A flying animal usually needs wings, but surprisingly, an animal that does not have wings can also fly. The flying snake can flatten its body and move through the air when it leaps from a tree. It does not glide passively; instead, it can fly up to 328 feet (100 meters), longer than other gliding animals.

Bats are nocturnal mammals that can fly.

What animals can fly the fastest and longest?

A peregrine falcon is one of the best fliers as it is recorded as the fastest and the longest flying animal moving at 200 mph (322 kph). A Brazillian free-tailed bat is the fastest flying mammal flying up to 100 mph (161 kph).

Likewise, a Hatzegopteryx, a pterosaur, is speculated to be the largest flying animal so far, with a wingspan ranging from 33 ft (10 m). A pterosaur was the first vertebrate that evolved to fly million years ago.

Which animals can fly without wings?

Several mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians can fly even though they lack wings, including Flying squirrels, flying squid, flying fish, Wallace's flying frogs, ballooning spiders, Draco lizard, flying lemurs, and colugos. Other flying creatures with specialized organs enabling them to fly include flying phalangers, gliding snakes, devil rays, and paradise tree snakes.

Also, some birds have wings but cannot soar high in the sky, like the emu, ostrich, penguin, and kiwi.

Are there any mammals that fly?

Did you know that a bat is a mammal? You may often mistake a bat with a bird, but it is a mammal. And yes, it flies. A bat is an incredible species as it flies in the dark too. Similarly, there are several more species of mammals that are capable of flying.

A flying squirrel, flying lemur, colugo, and phalanger are some of the flying mammals. These mammals do not fly but instead glide.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals that fly, then why not take a look at animals that start with E or animals with adaptations?

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Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

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