Birds are typically the first thing that springs into our mind whenever we see the phrase “animals that fly.”
These creatures are always up in the air, traveling across different neighborhoods, regions, and countries, with some of them going from one continent to another!
There seem to be, nevertheless, many other creatures that can travel through the air that might not cross our minds at first.
Some of them are animals we are familiar with, some of them are animals we have seen in our lives where we live or when we traveled to another country, while others are creatures we haven’t even heard of.
In this article, we have a bit of everything; from ocean creatures to the ones living in tropical rainforests. Nonetheless, what all these animals have in common is that they can fly.
How Do Animals Fly?
Most animals can fly using their wings. However, there are many animals in this world, which are also included in this article, that are equipped with membranes that expand and work like parachutes, helping them float in the air.
Moreover, some animals don’t exactly fly, but they rather glide. This means that they cannot really cover hundreds of meters flying, but they can use enough acceleration to rise up into the air and float around.
11 Animals That Fly
Dragonflies are the speediest insects on the planet, flying at speeds that can reach 35 miles per hour.
In fact, the southern giant darner currently holds the Guinness World Record for the speediest dragonfly, clocking in at 59.65 miles per hour!
These creatures have four wings, each of which has muscles attached to its base that control the wing’s angles and shapes.
Moreover, they can control multiple functions of their wings simultaneously, which helps them efficiently maneuver through the air.
Wallace’s Flying Frog
Wallace’s flying frogs are the biggest and most well-known of all flying frogs. These animals live in the tropical forest areas of Malaysia and Borneo, spending a great deal of their life on trees and only coming down to produce eggs or mate.
When they are being threatened or when they hunt insects, they utilize the thread between their legs which helps them with gliding as high and far as 50 feet after leaping from a branch.
Colugos, also known as flying lemurs, are among the most accomplished gliding mammalian species. They can fly similarly to squirrels and have comparable body shapes and systems.
When moving from one tree to the other, these animals have membranes that extend all over their body and help them glide.
They also possess an extremely light skeletal structure that makes flying easier, allowing them to skyrocket 200 feet between trees in tropical forest ecosystems.
Japanese Flying Squid
Also identified as the Japanese common squid, the Japanese flying squid is indigenous to the northern Pacific Ocean and belongs to the cephalopods category of animals.
The female squids of this species are bigger in size than the males, reaching lengths of up to 50 centimeters.
Along with several other cephalopods, these squids change their colors to blend in with their surroundings, something that greatly helps them avoid their predators and survive.
These creatures travel across the ocean using jet propulsion. This is accomplished by drawing water into its mantle and forcing it out via its siphon.
Because of the strength of their jet propulsion, Japanese flying squids can push their bodies out of the ocean and float in the air by expanding their fins and arms and generating aerodynamic forces.
From the moment they start flying, they can reach speeds as great as 11 meters per second.
They are thought to employ this flying skill to avoid predatory animals as well as to move fast, as they can travel five times quicker when they fly rather than when they swim.
Paradise Tree Snake
By straightening and tightening its body whilst also keeping its S-shape, the paradise tree snake is a snake that can float in the air.
It is also capable of making small spins in the air by moving its body, and it undulates to keep itself stable; it can fly more than 20 meters by adjusting their bodies 25 to 30 degrees against the flow of air.
The Draco lizard is a tiny, unusual-looking lizard that lives in Southeast Asian forests, reaching a length of 7.8 inches along with its tail.
This creature is equipped with ribs that can stretch or retract, and a membrane between its ribs that functions like wings do for other animals, helping the Draco lizard fly.
It can reach heights like 190 feet while it uses its tail to change directions and move around. Moreover, it is an animal that is extremely territorial and frequently utilizes its gliding skill to show other lizards they are unwelcome.
Freshwater Butterfly Fish
This fish’s wings have the shape of a butterfly and are the reason why this creature was named as such.
This ruthless fish, native to Africa, sits tight in ponds waiting for other fish to appear in front of them and uses its skin sensory mechanisms to tell when an insect has landed on the water by the small waves it will make once it lands on the water’s surface.
They then accelerate to reach the surface and catch the insect with their pectoral fins, with their perfect orientation helping them with being accurate.
This fish can also jump out of the water and fly for short periods of time thanks to its incredible acceleration.
Flying fish can be found in warm seawater all over the globe, and there are 70 different types of flying fish that science has identified.
These fish look like torpedoes as they streamline their bodies, something that allows them to increase their speed when they are beneath the water before breaking through to the surface.
This, combined with their long tails, helps in gaining speed as they reach the surface. After breaking the surface, the fish’s elongated lower tail lobe can keep beating in the sea, offering it additional force.
To fly, these fish then expand their large pectorals and take to the air. When it returns to the surface, it starts beating the lower lobe of its tail while re-entering the water.
Hoary bats are prevalent all over America and are capable of flying at approximately 13 miles per hour, reaching speeds as high as 25 miles per hour in quick spurts.
This type of bat, like most others, uses echolocation (see also: Animals That Use Echolocation)to navigate whenever they are flying. This suggests that they make a sharp call and distinguish objects from the sound that bounces off the surroundings.
Another type of animal that is easier to figure out flies thanks to its name is the flying fox. However, it is still a confusing name as it is not a fox species, but rather a bat.
Flying foxes are fruit bats that are, nonetheless, very different from the rest of their species, while they live in specific places only, like the Malaysian islands, Indonesia, Central Asia, but also Australia.
These bats feed mainly on fruit and move around thanks to their eye vision, unlike other bats that use their echolocation mechanism.
Flying foxes can range in size too. There are some that are tiny enough to be considered the tiniest bats in the world, while others are big enough to be considered a great source of food for people.
The latter have incredibly huge wings that can extend and reach more than six feet in diameter, which justifies them being one of the biggest bats in the world.
If the flying snake we had previously on our list surprised you, then the existence of a flying squirrel will do exactly the same!
The biggest surprise of all is that there is not only one but 50 different species of flying squirrels, all of which are distinguished by their flying ability.
To be more precise, flying squirrels should be called gliding squirrels as that is what they do. Rather than flying, they can glide.
These creatures are equipped with membranes that open like parachutes and connect their front and rear limbs.
That way, they can move from tree to tree by leaping from the tallest of branches and extending their legs to expose that membrane.
How high can they go? Well, some of the flying squirrels can glide as far as 46 meters!
The Bottom Line
There you have it; these are 11 animals that can fly or at least glide in the air. Like we said at the beginning of the article, this list is not a typical list with birds but one with animals whose flying and gliding ability comes as a surprise.
Now that you have learned this new information, don’t keep it to yourself. Share this article with your friends too!