Amazing Animals That Glide

Gliding is usually associated with birds, but did you know that birds aren’t the only animals that glide? Hundreds of species other than birds have evolved the ability to fly incredible distances through the air.

However, that doesn’t mean they can fly. Actual flight, or powered flight, uses the animal’s muscle power to propel it into the air and keep it aloft, as we see when birds flap their wings.

Gliding is a passive aerial movement that allows an animal to travel from one place to another without wings. There are many animals that are capable of gliding. Some of the most common animals that glide include sugar gliders, gliding ants, flying fish and flying geckos.

Here are some of the world’s most interesting animals that glide.

Amazing Animals That Glide

Sugar Gliders

The first member of our list of animals that glide is the sugar glider. These fascinating marsupials are found in the forests of Australia and New Guinea and fall under the category of “wrist-winged gliders.”

This means that they have a flap of skin from their wrists to their ankles, called a patagium, which they use to glide.

Sugar gliders leap from trees by extending their limbs like starfish and using their “wings” to soar more than 150 feet (45 m) into the air. They have long, bushy tails that act as a fin and help propel them while gliding.

Flying Fish

More than 60 species of flying fish are found in warm waters around the world, especially around Barbados, known as the “Land of Flying Fish”.

Flying fish propel themselves above the surface by increasing their speed underwater and then extending their large fins into the air.

They use this behavior to avoid predators, such as swordfish.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, some species of flying fish can reach speeds of over 35 mph (56 km/h) and can glide up to 650 feet (200 meters) in a single glide!

Flying fish can continue gliding without fully returning to the water, using their tails to propel them further. These “compound glides” have an amazing span of 400 meters or 1300 feet!

Wallace’s Flying Frogs

Amazing Animals That Glide

The tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia are home to this 4-inch (10-cm) frogs. They glide in a unique way that is more akin to parachuting.

As Wallace’s flying frogs have webbed feet, but instead of using them to propel themselves through the water, they use their long toes to glide up to 50 feet (15 m) on land, used as a kind of parachute to

They also have loose flaps of skin on their sides that help them in gliding.

Indian Giant Flying Squirrels

Other animals that glide are the Indian giant flying squirrel. The largest flying squirrel on Earth, the Indian giant flying squirrel, can grow to an impressive 17 inches (43 cm). Despite its size, it is an efficient glider.

This species of squirrel uses a sugar glider-like mechanism to glide. It also has a patagium, or flap of skin, extending between its fore and hind limbs, to drive its tail.

The tail of the Indian giant flying squirrel is actually longer than its body, measuring up to 20 inches (52 cm).

Read Also: Animals with paws


Amazing Animals That Glide

Colugo usually refers to two separate species: the Sunda flying lemur and the Philippine flying lemur.

Southeast Asian colugos are animals that glide that are getting harder to find owing to habitat loss. They have almost perfected the art of gliding with their amazing physical adaptations.

colugo’s patagia extend not only from the ankles to the wrists but also from the tips of their toes to the tips of their toes, to the tip of their tails. They even have webbed fingers and toes!

This enables them to glide for upwards of 450 feet (150 meters), sometimes as much as 230 feet (70 meters).

Gliding Ants

Amazing Animals That Glide

As their name suggests, these are species of ants capable of gliding.

There are several species of gliding ants found in rainforests around the world. All have a very unusual way of gliding.

When they sense a threat, gliding ants jump from trees and fall a few meters. Then they flip themselves onto their backs, use their flat heads and bodies to slow their fall, and peek between their legs to see where they’re going.

Once they have a target, they use their long hind legs to propel themselves towards it. While this may sound ridiculous, it is apparently very useful for tens of ant species that do this!

Greater Gliders

Amazing Animals That Glide

Another Australian animal that glides, the giant glider, is the world’s largest gliding marsupial. Like many gliding mammals, these creatures use their patagia to help them glide and to propel them using unusually long tails.

Their tail can actually be twice as long as their body!

Unlike the sugar glider, the greater glider is an “elbow-winged glider”, meaning their patagium extends from the ankle to the elbow rather than the wrist.

These cat-sized marsupials can glide up to 330 feet (100 meters) and are able to turn 90 degrees in the air (horizontally, not vertically…anyone can fall).

Read Also: Evil Animals

Common Gliding Lizard

Amazing Animals That Glide

The common gliding lizard is one of about 40 species of gliding lizard, known as Dracula, found in the forests of Southeast Asia and southern India.

Draco lizards have a similar gliding mechanism, which is quite different from other gliding animals. They have a membrane that runs down their torso and is controlled by long ribs.

In other words, some of the Dracula lizard’s ribs can actually extend to the side, extending the membrane into a kind of wing.

If they feel threatened, lizards are the first to jump from trees, extending their arms when their bodies are parallel to the ground.

Ballooning Spiders

Amazing Animals That Glide

Arachnophobes can take some solace in the fact that spiders can’t fly. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from flying.

Many spider species have a truly unique and unusual gliding ability, known as ballooning. For one thing, they make their gliding material from gossamer or spider silk.

They depend not only on-air movement but also on the electrical current. Balloon spiders are highly sensitive to electric fields, and they use static charges to propel them through the air, clinging to their silk “kites” as they go.

Fortunately for arachnophobes, the only spider species capable of doing this are very small… mostly.

Japanese Flying Squids

Squid might be a surprising addition to this list of animals that glide, but the Japanese flying squid is capable of soaring over 100 feet (30m) in a single glide.

They do this by lifting themselves out of the water and spreading their tentacles and fins like wings. It is believed that they do this either to avoid predators or to conserve energy during migration.

Because squid travel in large groups, it is not unusual to see entire shoals of squid flying through the air over the Pacific Ocean together.

Flying Geckos

Thirteen or more extant species of flying lizards are found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

Unlike draconian lizards, these reptiles do not use their ribs to glide. Instead, their face, torso, tail, and toes have soft membranes, mainly more skin.

Flying geckos control their descent by leaping into the air and using these membranes. Some species are capable of gliding up to 200 feet (60m)!

Even though they need special attention, flying geckos are occasionally kept as pets by reptile aficionados.

Moluccan Flying Snakes

Amazing Animals That Glide

As if flying spiders weren’t enough, apparently snakes can also take to the skies.

Fortunately, none of the many species of flying snakes found throughout Southeast Asia are considered dangerous to humans.

The largest of all flying snakes, the Moluccas flying snake, can grow up to about 47 inches (120 cm) long and is found on several islands in Indonesia.

Flying snakes can fly up to 300 feet (100 m) and can change direction by twisting their bodies. They fall from trees and immediately flatten their bodies, bending downwards in a C-shape to catch air.

The majority of mammals, including flying squirrels and Australian gliders, are not as good gliders as flying snakes, which is surprising.

Read Also: Animals Without Ears

Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel

The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is a relative of Beecroft’s flying squirrel found in Japan. These squirrels grow up to 8 inches long, while their tails are about 5.5 inches long.

Like many other flying squirrels, they are “wrist-winged gliders” and glide much like their cousins.

There is nothing particularly unusual about the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel other than the fact that they are, without a doubt, ridiculously cute.

Northern Gliders

The Northern Glider is closely related to both the Sugar Glider and the Greater Glider and is endemic to Papua New Guinea.

These tiny gliding marsupials weigh barely 9 ounces (250 grams). They are critically endangered, with the main threats being deforestation and hunting.

Like their relatives, northern gliders use their large wing flaps to swing from branch to branch and can travel tens or even hundreds of feet.


Halfbeaks are actually a group of about 70 different fish, named for their unusual jaws. Halfbacks’ lower jaws are longer than their upper jaws, giving them a “half-jawed” or “half-beaked” appearance.

Halfbacks are found in warm waters around the world. Some species of halfback are capable of gliding like other flying fish.

They lift themselves out of the water and through the air using their fins.

However, their wings are relatively short, making them somewhat inefficient gliders, with a maximum gliding distance of only about 10 feet (3m).


Amazing Animals That Glide

Speaking of animals that glide, the Safka must be mentioned.

The sifaka is named after its “shi-fak” alarm call, a species of lemur found only in Madagascar.

There is some controversy surrounding whether these endangered primates can actually glide or whether they simply jump.

Sifakas can leap 33 feet (10 meters) in a single bound, and it is generally accepted that they use skin flaps under their arms to prolong their time in the air.

Read Also: Animals with Fur

Neon Blue-Tailed Tree Lizards

They, along with the saw-tailed lizard, are one of two species of African gliding lizard.

Neon blue-tailed tree lizards, at first glance, have no obvious gliding adaptations other than flat bodies and webbed feet, yet these animals can glide nearly 100 feet (30m) through the air.

This is mainly due to their extremely light bones.

Like many birds, the eastern neon blue-tailed tree lizard’s bones (try saying triple sharp) are porous, with air pockets making them very light.

Feathertail Gliders

The feathertail glider is the world’s smallest gliding animal, weighing less than half an ounce (12 grams).

These tiny marsupials, which are related to sugar gliders, are exclusively found in Australia. The peculiar tails of feathertail gliders are coated with stiff, feather-like hairs.

Feathertail gliders may glide up to 100 feet (28 meters) between trees by using their patagia and tails.

Like large gliders, feathertail gliders are “elbow-winged gliders”, with patagia extending between their elbows and ankles.

Long-Eared Flying Mice

The long-eared flying mouse is not a mouse, although it has relatively long ears. They are actually a type of flying squirrel (which aren’t actually squirrels… who named these animals?).

These small rodents are relatives of Beecroft’s flying squirrels and other itchy-tailed flying squirrels.

Long-eared flying mice are found throughout central Africa and weigh only about one ounce (30 grams).

Their gliding mechanism is similar to that of other flying squirrels: they use their patagia, or wing flaps, to glide and their tails for steering and braking.

Beecroft’s Flying Squirrels

The last member of our list of animals that glide is Beecroft’s flying squirrel. It is a species of rough-tailed squirrel (cute name) found throughout Central Africa.

Not surprisingly, itchy-tailed squirrels are so called because of the scales that grow on their tails. Beecroft’s flying squirrel, like many mammalian gliders, has a pygmy between its fore and hind limbs and a strong tail for steering.

This flying squirrel is covered in gray and white or gray fur except for the underside of its wing membrane, which is almost entirely bare.

Last words

Gliding is an efficient method of aerial travel from place to place (usual tree to tree). Animals that glide usually need some form of propulsion or to launch from a high point, while true fliers do not.

It is thought that gliding evolved before the actual flight, which is why we see gliding in such a wide range of species. In contrast, true flight evolved only four times in history: the now-extinct pterosaurs, birds, bats, and insects. Hope now you have got complete information about “animals that glide”.

Thank you for reading the article.

Amazing Animals That Glide
Amazing Animals That Glide

Title: Amazing Animals That Glide

Description: Gliding is a passive aerial movement that allows an animal to travel from one place to another without wings. There are many animals that are capable of gliding. Some of the most common animals that glide include sugar gliders, gliding ants, flying fish and flying geckos.

Start date: September 26, 2022

Author: Muhammad Ali

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Gliding is a passive aerial movement that allows an animal to travel from one place to another without wings. There are many animals that are capable of gliding. Some of the most common animals that glide include sugar gliders, gliding ants, flying fish and flying geckos.

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