17 Examples of Animals that Glide (A to Z List)

Examples of Animals that Glide

Gliding is a form of flight that allows animals to move in the air without flapping their wings. It typically requires a lot less energy than other forms of flying, and it’s much quieter.

Animals who glide use any number of different methods to do so: some rely on objects like trees or cliffs for lift; others make use of updrafts from the ground, and still others fly upwards by jumping up through the air.

Examples of Animals that Glide

Not all animals that glide do so in the same way. There are two main types of gliding: launching and passive gliding.

Most examples of launchable animals fly through the air, but some just walk or jump off a perch to get into flight.

Gliders can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

1. Butterflyfish

Scientific NameChaetodontidae
Type of AnimalFish
RangeAtlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans

Butterflyfish are pelagic fish that can be found in tropical waters all over the world. Some examples of places include Australia, Africa around Madagascar, India including Thailand, South America near Venezuela & Peru along with Costa Rica to Panama.

However, there are some species that have been found in temperate waters or even colder, such as the polar regions.

2. Draco lizard

Scientific NameDraco
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSoutheast Asia

The Draco lizard is a species of lizard that can glide from tree to tree. This allows them to escape predators and find their food source, insects.

They are able to glide 26 feet by gliding through the air if it’s windy enough outside for this type of travel.

The Draco Lizard is a species that can be found in Asia, South East Asia

3. Feather-Tailed Possums

Scientific NameAcrobatidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeTropical rainforests and woodland areas

Feather-tailed possums are small, arboreal marsupials native to Australia. With their pointed noses and long tails that serve as a counterbalance when gliding from tree to tree, feather-tailed possums live in the southeastern part of mainland Australia.

These animals eat leaves, fruits, flowers, and nectar; they also consume bird eggs.

4. Flying Fish

Scientific NameExocoetidae
Type of AnimalFish
RangeAtlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States

Gliding is a great way for fish to avoid predators and travel long distances. The flying fish can glide up to 650 feet in a single flight by using its large pectoral fins as wings.

Flying fish can use their fins both as wings or steering flippers for flight and swimming just like a plane uses its propeller to fly through the air and swim through water.

5. Flying Gecko

Scientific NamePtychozoon
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSoutheast Asia

Flying geckos can glide up to 200 feet. This is a distance of about 60 meters and they use this technique for escaping predators or finding food.

They do not have wings, but instead, their skin easily stretches and forms aerodynamic flaps that allow them to fly through the air like other gliders such as flying squirrels and sugar gliders.

Related Article: Can Flying Geckos Fly?

6. Giant Golden Crowned Flying Fox

Scientific NameAcerodon jubatus
Type of AnimalMammal

A Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox can glide for about 80 meters and can fly up to 50km.

They are the largest bat in the world, with a wingspan that can reach up to 1.5 meters (5 feet).

Giant golden-crowned bats are found only in one place in the Philippines and feed on the nectar and pollen of flowering trees.

7. Greater Glider

Scientific NamePetauroides volans
Type of AnimalMarsupial

A greater glider can glide up to 330 feet and is one of the most graceful in the air.

They use their feet as a rudder while they are gliding through the air, which helps them steer themselves where they want to go.

Greater Gliders do not flap their arms when flying; instead, they spread out their arms and legs wide on each side and glide.

8. Halfbeak

Scientific NameHemiramphidae
Type of AnimalFish
RangeAtlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans

A Halfbeak can glide/skip on the water for over 3 meters to avoid predators like dolphins. This is a great distance for only being 15 inches long.

A halfbeak’s gliding technique involves its pectoral fins and pelvic fins (fins on the underbelly) pushing it forward while their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins (tail fin) push against the water to bring them up.

9. Malabar Gliding Frog

Scientific NameRhacophorus malabaricus
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeWestern Ghats

The Malabar gliding frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) has a flap of skin stretched between its legs and arms that allows it to glide for short distances.

The maximum horizontal glide distance covered by the species is 40 to 50 feet more than 100 times body length, while some individuals can cover about 18 meters in one leap.

10. Northern Flying Squirrel

Scientific NameGlaucomys sabrinus
Type of AnimalRodent
RangeNortheast, along the West Coast

Northern flying squirrels use their large, furry tails to help them navigate through the air. They can travel up to 150 feet from a height of 60 feet in one flight at airspeeds of between 6.26 m/s to 8.11 m/s.

The patagium is a furry membrane that connects the wrists of northern flying squirrels all the way down to their ankles which allows them to glide.

They can also glide up, down, left, or right depending on where they need to go. They are not very muscular and do not control their glides while they are airborne.

11. Philippine Flying Lemur

Scientific NameCynocephalus volans
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthern Philippines

The Philippine flying lemur glides through the trees between canopy levels at 230 feet far.

The main reason it does this is when threatened by predators or if they are trying to escape them.

When they do leap from tree branches and grab onto another, they do it towards the end of branches to give them a trampoline effect.

Their tails help them maneuver through trees and build momentum but once in the air, their bodies act as a parachute.

They situate themselves into an upright position with their head facing downwards which causes them to glide almost completely horizontally.

Read Also: Do Flying Lemur Live in Trees?

12. Sawtail Lizard

Scientific NameHolaspis guentheri
Type of AnimalReptile

A Sawtail lizard glides through the air using a flap of skin called a patagium. This is found between their legs, and one on each side near its armpits.

The combined surface area can be as large as 70% of this creature’s body length! They glide at angles up to 45 degrees with some lizards being able to glide up to 30 meters in one glide.

13. Sifaka

Scientific NamePropithecus
Type of AnimalMammal

The sifaka is a lemur that lives in the dry forests of Madagascar, and they spend most of their time in trees because it helps them evade predators like cats, birds, snakes, or crocodiles which live on land below them.

The Sifakas leap from one tree to the next, they use their patagium (the furry skin) and slow down as they jump.

The patagium is stretched between all limbs of their bodies instead of just across the fingers like other lemurs.

When a sifaka jumps with its body outstretched it will land with both hands and feet on the tree trunk and is able to slow its descent by gripping with its claws.

They can glide up to 30 feet using this method of gliding between the trees, but they will only do so when in danger or if it’s necessary for them to find a new food source.

14. Southern Flying Squirrel

Scientific NameGlaucomys volans
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe eastern United States

The Southern flying squirrel is able to glide for long distances. If the weather conditions are just right, these animals can travel up to 70 meters through the air!

Once they jump they use their specialized skin flaps between their limbs and body to control how they move in mid-air so that they don’t plummet back down when they are air born.

15. Sugar Glider

Scientific NamePetaurus breviceps
Type of AnimalMammal

The Sugar glider does fall into the “Colugo” group which also includes flying lemurs that can travel very long distances when in freefall.

The patagium is the membrane that enables them to glide. A sugar glider can glide up to 150 feet (about 45 meters).

Sugar Gliders eat fruit, insects, nectar, and sap from trees. They are nocturnal creatures meaning they sleep during the day but wake at night time to hunt or gather food like pollen and sap from plants.

16. Sunda Flying Lemur

Scientific NameGaleopterus variegatus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSoutheast Asia

The Sunda flying lemur can glide up to 100 meters. This distance depends on the size of the animal and how fast it is going at takeoff, among other things.

It’s a little-known fact that animals like this cannot just spread their limbs out and fly – they actually have to launch themselves into an incline before gliding.

This helps with the launch and also increases their distance of glide because they are going into an incline instead of just flat or downhill.

17. Paradise Tree Snake

Scientific NameChrysopelea paradisi
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSoutheast Asia

A Paradise tree snake glides by flattening out its body to make it look larger. These snakes can glide upwards of 10 meters and are also able to steer themselves while airborne for short distances.

The flying snake can launch itself into the air using a technique called “parachuting”. To do this, it climbs to the top of a tree and then pushes off with its head and mid-region while holding onto the branch with its tail end.

The snake will flatten out its body into a leaf-shaped parachute in order to glide away from predators.

This type of gliding works well for small snakes because they can quickly escape threats.

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