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16 Animals that Can Fly that Aren’t Birds (A to Z List with Pictures)

16 Animals that Can Fly that Aren't Birds

Examples of animals that can fly that aren’t birds include colugos, draco lizards, flying fish, flying foxes, and flying squirrels.

There are a surprising number of animals that can fly, and many of them aren’t birds. In fact, there are quite a few mammals that have mastered the art of flight (or, at least, gliding). From bats to flying squirrels, these animals use their wings to navigate through the air with ease. While they may not be as graceful as birds, they certainly are an impressive sight to see.

Below are animals that both sustain flight through flapping their wings, and who achieve flight through gliding.

Examples of Animals that Can Fly that Aren’t Birds

Birds get a lot of attention for their flying abilities, but they’re not the only animals that can take to the sky. There are many other creatures that can fly without wings, using different methods to stay in the air.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of these animals and explore how they manage to fly. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of flying animals over those that rely on wings.

1. Ambopteryx

Scientific NameAmbopteryx longibrachium
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeChina

The first flying animal on our list is the Ambopteryx. This creature was a four-winged dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic period. Although it’s technically not a bird, it’s often considered to be the closest thing to one.

The Ambopteryx had two sets of wings, one on its forearms and one on its back. These wings were made up of feathers, like those of modern birds. And while it didn’t have hollow bones like other birds, it did share similar features such as a light skeletal structure and efficient respiratory system.

Despite these similarities to modern birds, the Ambopteryx used different methods to fly. Instead of flapping its wings up and down, it moved them in a figure-eight pattern. This created to lift and allowed the Ambopteryx to stay in the air for extended periods of time.

2. Ballooning Spiders

Ballooning Spiders
Scientific NameAraneae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeAustralia

Spiders are another group of animals that can fly, although they don’t use their wings to do so. Instead, they rely on a process called ballooning.

When a spider wants to fly, it will climb to the top of a tall object and release a stream of silk into the air. The silk acts like a balloon, catching the wind and carrying the spider away. The spider can then steer itself by releasing more silk from one side or the other.

This method of flying isn’t very efficient, but it’s useful for spiders that want to travel long distances. It also helps them escape predators and find new mates.

3. Colugos

Colugo
Scientific NameDermoptera
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesoutheastern Asia

Colugos are small mammals that live in the forests of Southeast Asia. They’re often called “flying lemurs,” although they’re not actually related to lemurs.

What sets colugos apart from other mammals is their ability to glide. They have special skin flaps on their sides that allow them to catch the wind and stay in the air for extended periods of time. And while they can’t fly like birds, they are able to glide from tree to tree with ease.

This ability comes in handy for colugos that want to escape predators or travel to new areas. It also helps them find food and mates, as they’re able to cover larger distances than other land-based mammals.

4. Draco Lizard

Scientific NameDraco
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSoutheast Asia

The Draco lizard is a small reptile that lives in the forests of Southeast Asia. It’s easily recognizable by its large wings, which it uses to glide from tree to tree.

While the Draco lizard can’t fly like a bird, it is able to glide long distances using the air currents. This helps it escape predators and find food, as it’s able to travel from tree to tree without having to move its legs.

Many experts believe that the Draco lizard is an evolutionary relic, meaning that it’s a holdover from an earlier time when animals could fly more easily. While their wings may not be as useful for flying today, they certainly come in handy for gliding.

5. Flying Fish

Flying Fish
Scientific NameExocoetidae
Type of AnimalFish
RangeAtlantic and Pacific coasts

Flying fish are a type of fish that live in the oceans of the world. They get their name from their ability to “fly” out of the water and glide through the air.

Flying fish use their large fins to push themselves out of the water and into the air. Once they’re airborne, they use their tail fins to glide through the air. This helps them escape predators and find food, as they’re able to cover large distances in a short amount of time.

While flying fish are mostly found in tropical waters, they can also be found in temperate and even cold waters. This makes them one of the most widespread flying animals in the world.

6. Flying Fox

Indian Flying Fox
Scientific NamePteropus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeMadagascar to Australia and Indonesia

The flying fox is a type of bat that lives in the forests of Southeast Asia. It’s the largest bat in the world, with a wingspan that can reach up to six feet.

Despite its size, the flying fox is a nimble flier. It uses its large wings to glide through the air, which helps it avoid trees and other obstacles when it’s flying through forests.

In addition to its large wings, the flying fox also has excellent vision, which helps it find food at night. This makes it a very efficient flier, as long as there aren’t any obstacles in its way.

7. Flying Gecko

Flying Gecko
Scientific NamePtychozoon
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangesoutheast Asian rainforest

While most flying animals are mammals or birds, there are a few reptiles that have mastered the art of flight as well. One such creature is the flying gecko, a small lizard native to Southeast Asia.

The flying gecko has large flaps of skin that extend from its sides and legs, giving it the appearance of a miniature parachute. When it wants to glide, the gecko will simply jump off of a high place and let the wind catch its skin.

This gliding method isn’t very efficient, but it does allow the flying gecko to travel short distances without having to use its legs. And in some cases, it can even change directions mid-flight.

8. Flying Ray

Scientific NameAetobatus narinari
Type of AnimalFish
RangeBaja California

The next flying animal on our list is the flying ray. This creature is a type of fish that can glide through the air using its large wing-like fins.

Flying rays are found in tropical waters all over the world. They use their fins to “fly” from one place to another, usually to avoid predators or to find food.

Although flying rays are not technically capable of true flight, they do display many interesting adaptations for gliding. In addition to their large wing-like fins, they also have unique skin that is highly adapted for reducing drag and increasing lift.

9. Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel
Scientific NamePteromyini
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeeastern United States

The flying squirrel is a small mammal that is found in forests all over the world. As its name suggests, this creature can “fly” from tree to tree using its large, furry tail.

Flying squirrels have a special membrane of skin that stretches between their front and back legs. This membrane allows them to glide through the air for long distances.

Although flying squirrels are not actually capable of true flight. However, they are able to glide gracefully through the air and cover large distances in a short amount of time.

10. Freshwater Butterfly Fish

Freshwater Butterfly Fish
Scientific NamePantodon buchholzi
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWest Africa

The next flying animal on our list is the freshwater butterflyfish. This creature is a type of fish that can “fly” out of the water using its large fins.

Freshwater butterflyfish are found in slow-moving rivers and streams in Africa. They use their fins to “fly” from one place to another, usually to avoid predators or to find food.

Like the flying ray, freshwater butterflyfish are not technically capable of true flight. However, they do have many interesting adaptations that help them glide through the air. For example, their fins create enough lift for them to stay in the air for short periods of time. Additionally, their skin is specially adapted for reducing drag, which helps them to glide more easily.

11. Gliding Possums

Scientific NamePetauridae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNew Guinea and Australia

This creature is a type of marsupial that can “fly” from tree to tree using its large tail.

Gliding possums are found in rainforests in Australia and New Guinea. They use their tails to “fly” from one place to another, usually to avoid predators or to find food.

Gliding possums are not technically capable of true flight, but they are excellent gliders. Their tails are specially adapted for creating lift and reducing drag. Additionally, their skin is very thin, which helps them to glide more easily.

12. Humans

base jump wingsuit
Scientific NameHomo sapiens
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide

While we may not be able to fly like birds, some of us can come pretty close. BASE jumpers and skydivers use wingsuits to glide through the air, sometimes reaching speeds of over 200mph. While this isn’t true flight, it’s still an impressive feat.

There is also a handful of human-powered aircraft that can stay afloat without the use of engines or motors. These innovative vehicles rely on human ingenuity and ingenuity to fly, which makes them an incredibly unique form of transportation.

Overall, humans may not be able to fly like birds, but we’ve still managed to find ways to conquer the skies. Whether through wingsuits or human-powered aircraft, we’ve found ways to take to the air and explore the world from a bird’s-eye view.

13. Japanese Flying Squid

Japanese Flying Squid
Scientific NameTodarodes pacificus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Pacific Ocean

You may not think of squids as being particularly adept at flying, but the Japanese flying squid is an expert at it. This creature uses a jet of water to propel itself out of the water and into the air, where it can glide for long distances.

While the Japanese flying squid isn’t technically flying, it’s still an impressive feat. This creature is able to use its jet propulsion to reach speeds of up to 60mph, making it one of the fastest animals in the world.

This squid’s flying abilities have been studied by scientists, who believe that this creature could be used as a model for developing new forms of transportation. If we can figure out how to harness the Japanese flying squid’s jet propulsion, it could revolutionize travel in the future.

14. Kuhl’s Parachute Gecko

Scientific NameGekko kuhli
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeMalay Peninsula

Another animal that can fly without wings is the Kuhl’s parachute gecko. This gecko uses flaps on its body to glide across the air, allowing it to cover long distances and reach heights of nearly 150 feet.

Like many other flying animals, the Kuhl’s parachute gecko has evolved specialized adaptations to help it stay in the air. For example, this gecko has large webbed feet that act as parachutes, slowing it down as it falls and helping it to land safely.

The Kuhl’s parachute gecko is an amazing creature that can fly without wings, using only its body to glide through the air.

15. Paradise Tree Snake

green tree snake
Scientific NameChrysopelea paradisi
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangesoutheastern Asia

The paradise tree snake is another animal that defies conventional wisdom when it comes to flying. This fascinating creature uses its ribs and scales to glide through the air, using a modified version of the x-shaped gliding pattern used by some lizards.

While most snakes rely on their long, sinuous bodies to navigate through tight spaces and climb trees, the paradise tree snake uses its unique ability to glide through the air. This allows it to travel long distances in search of prey, or escape potential predators.

Despite its impressive flying abilities, the paradise tree snake is a very rare animal. It can only be found in certain parts of Southeast Asia and Australia, and even then it is very difficult to spot.

16. Wallace’s Flying Frog

Wallace's Flying Frog
Scientific NameRhacophorus nigropalmatus
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeMalaysia and Borneo

One of the most unique flying animals is Wallace’s flying frog, which uses an incredibly unusual method to stay in the air. This creature has flaps of skin on its feet that it can use to glide through the air.

Wallace’s flying frog is a truly remarkable animal, with adaptations unlike any other creature on earth. Scientists believe that this creature’s ability to glide may have evolved in response to the loss of trees in its habitat. By evolving the ability to glide, Wallace’s flying frog was able to adapt to its changing environment and continue to thrive.

Conclusion

While many animals can fly, not all of them are birds. In this article, we’ve looked at a few animals that can fly but aren’t birds. These animals include the colugo, the Draco lizard, the flying fish, and the flying gecko. Each of these animals has evolved to use flight in different ways, whether it’s for escape, travel, or hunting.

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