It's not just birds. There are many animals that fly, including some mammals, fish, and even reptiles!

From the story of Icarus, to Superman, to the Wright Brothers, mankind has always envied the power of flight. Your students will read short passages to learn about different animals that can fly (or at least glide in some cases), and answer questions about them. Two different answer sheets-one multiple choice and one short answer-are provided for each passage. Note: some answer sheets are multiple pages. Answer keys are provided for each sheet. These worksheets spend a good amount of time helping you learn about animals that fly that are not birds. Fun Fact: While not exactly flying, some spiders practice "ballooning," in which they spin a silk to ride the winds to new areas.

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Print Flying Animal Worksheets

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Largest Flying Animal Ever Worksheet

The Largest Flying Animal Ever

If you deduced that the answer is a prehistoric flying dinosaur, you are on the right track.

Largest Flying Animal Ever Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice

The flying reptiles lived about 65 to 85 million years ago until they became extinct when the dinosaurs disappeared.

Largest Flying Animal Question Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Fossil evidence on pterodactyls includes not only bones but preserved embryos of baby pterodactyls still inside an egg.

Largest Flying Animal Today Worksheet

The Largest Flying Animal Today

Wingspan measures the distance from the tip of the left wing to the tip of the right wing when the animal has its wings fully outstretched. Large birds today have a wingspan of about twelve feet.

Modern Animals Question Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

A unique physical feature of these birds that live on the ocean is a salt gland located near the nose.

Largest Flying Animal Today Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Youngsters will not mate until they are eleven to fifteen years of age. Fortunately, even with this slow rate of reproduction, the population of snowy albatross is showing only a slow decline.

Fastest Flying Animal Worksheet

The Fastest Flying Animal

It probably doesn't surprise you that the fastest flying animal is a bird, the peregrine falcon when it is diving.

Fastest Flyer Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

The peregrine falcon has an extremely fast dive because it swoops down on prey from a high perch or while flying.

Fastest Flyer Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

This bird is naturally adaptable and lives almost everywhere in the world except for New Zealand, tropical rainforests, and very cold areas.

Flying Fish Worksheet

Flying Fish Passage

Even though fish are designed to live in the water, there are 64 species in fish family that are classified with the scientific name Exocoetidae.

Flying Fish Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

Flying fish have unique physical characteristics that support their ability to leap out of the water and fly above the surface. Fish fins have tiny bones underneath the skin to provide a structure and rigidity to them.

Flying Fish Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

The pectoral fins of flying fish are different because they are much longer than average fish species plus the bones are structured to form a curved instead of flat fin.

Flying Snakes Worksheet

Flying Snakes

Don’t worry, a flying snake won’t whiz past your face when you are out for a walk in the woods!

Flying Snakes Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

Of course, flying snakes don’t actually fly like birds or airplanes; snakes don’t have wings. Instead, flying snakes glide through the air a bit like a paper airplane. However, a paper airplane does have wings that make it aerodynamic.

Flying Snakes Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Like whales, mobulas will break the surface of the water, which is known as breaching.

Flying Mobula Worksheet

Flying Mobulas

A flying mobula sounds like something from a sci-fi novel but it is a real animal on Planet Earth. In fact a mobula is a species of ray, an ocean fish that is related to sharks.

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Flying Mobula Question Worksheet

Flying Mobulas - Multiple Choice Questions

Mobulas are huge fish, up to twenty feet wide and weighing 1500 pounds or more.

Flying Mobula Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Two pterodactyls, Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx, compete for the title of the largest flying animal ever.

Flying Geckos Worksheet

Flying Geckos Reading Passage

Of course, the gecko in the commercials is an animated creature and real geckos are found in the United Kingdom only as pets in a vivarium.

Flying Geckos Question Worksheet

Flying Geckos - Multiple Choice Questions

The majority of gecko species live in warm areas of the world, including Africa, southern Asia, Indonesia, and around the Mediterranean Sea. Many of world’s geckos are arboreal, which means that they live in trees.

Flying Gecko Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Flying geckos don’t really fly because they don’t have wings like a bird but they glide through the air.

Flying Frogs Worksheet

Flying Frogs - Reading Passage

Perch yourself by pond or wetlands area on a summer's evening and you will most likely hears the voices of frogs, from the bellowing sound of a large bullfrog to the cricket-like chirps of tiny tree frogs.

Flying Frogs Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

Biologists exploring in the Himalayan Mountains in this century have recently found a new species of flying frog.

Flying Frog Question Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

The best known flying tree frog is Wallace's flying frog, named for the man who first studied them.

Flying Squirrels Worksheet

Flying Squirrels

There are ten subspecies of Southern flying squirrels found in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and into Central America.

Flying Squirrels Multiple Choice Worksheet

Multiple Choice Questions

Flying squirrels don't have wings that they flap like birds do. Instead, flying squirrels have two pieces of skin covered with fur that connect the wrist of a front leg with the ankle of a back leg on the same side.

Flying Squirrels Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Describe the geographic area where Northern flying squirrels can be found.

Flying Lemur Worksheet

Flying Lemurs- Reading Passage

Even though flying lemurs are not classified as primates, genetic analysis shows that they are closely related to primate species.

Flying Lemur Short Answer Worksheet

Short Answer Questions

Flying lemurs are mammals. They are arboreal animals, which means that they live in trees and don’t spend much of their time on the ground.

Flying Lemur Question Worksheet

Lemurs Short Answer Questions

Adults are about 14 to 16 inches long and weigh 2 to 4 pounds. They have a 12-inch tail and are known for their small rounded ears and large eyes. Flying lemurs don’t really fly like birds but instead glide through the air.

What Types of Animals Can Fly?

The ability to soar across the sky is not a gift nature has given to everyone. Only a few types of animals can fly or glide, much less achieve true flight. 

The only types of animals that can fly or are capable of true flight are birds, bats, and winged insects. Other animals that appear to fly—such as flying squirrels, parachute frogs, colugos, and flying fish—actually glide instead of flying. True flight involves the flapping of wings.

True flight and gliding are both types of aerial locomotion that allow animals to maneuver through the air. Keep reading to know the differences and what animals can fly or glide. 

How Do Animals Fly? 

Flight is a type of animal locomotion or movement. Animals employ different mechanisms to fly or glide through the air. 

True-flying animals, like birds and bats, use wings to fly across the sky. They flap their wings to maneuver their way through the air. Meanwhile, gliders, like flying squirrels, may have anatomical flaps that allow them to glide better.

When it comes to the difference between true flight and gliding, it’s important to note that animals capable of true flight have more control while in the air. Their flight allows them to complete other maneuvers, which I'll discuss in the next section. 

What Is True Flight?

True flight, also called winged flight, is a rare capability in the animal kingdom. Throughout known history, only select animals could actually fly. One of these animals is the pterosaurs, a type of dinosaur or ancient reptile. 

True flight is the ability of certain animals to use their wings to maneuver through the air. Unlike gliders, they can ascend or move in a horizontal direction without the help of strong winds. This ability is borne out of evolutionary modifications.

Some adaptations that animals have incurred through adaptation allow them to fly. These include the transformation of forelimbs to wings, bigger hearts and muscles, and lighter and fused bones.

True fliers also have more power (or thrust) in their aerial movements. Their wings move actively to attain lift or allow them to move in ways that passive gliding could not. 

What Animals Are Capable of True Flight?

Birds, bats, winged insects, and pterosaurs are the only documented animals capable of true flight. Flight mechanisms among these creatures may vary, especially among individual insect types. Still, these animals all possess wings. 

Among all mammals, only bats are capable of true flight. Their light bodies, stretchy wing skins, and wings formed from modified hands or arms allow them to do so. 

Finally, we cannot talk about true flight without mentioning birds. These avian creatures are considered the best fliers among animals because their bodies are superbly adapted for such capabilities. 

For instance, a bird's body is designed to be light and streamlined. Thus, birds have feathers instead of fur, wings instead of arms, delicate beaks instead of jaws, and hollow bones. 

Even bird reproduction is adapted for flight. By laying eggs outside their bodies, they won't accumulate weight that might make them too heavy to fly.

What Is Gliding?

Most animals with "flying" in their names (e.g., flying squirrels, flying fish) actually glide instead of fly. 

Gliding is the passive moment that allows animals to cover distances across the air. Gliding animals rely on strong winds to glide effectively. They can cover horizontal distances, depending on their body's design and wind strength. Most gliders have specially-adapted bodies. 

Most animals adapt to gliding by having flexible membranes or flaps. These flaps increase the animal's surface area and allow the wind to carry them for longer and farther. 

Animals That Can Glide 

Here are some examples of animals that can glide: 

  • Flying squirrels 
  • Flying geckos (Kuhl's parachute gecko)
  • Wallace's flying frogs (parachute frogs)
  • Flying lemurs (colugo)
  • Flying mice (pygmy gliding possum) 
  • Paradise tree snake 
  • Freshwater butterflyfish
  • Flying fish 
  • Japanese flying squid
  • Draco lizard

Final Thoughts

Certain animals can successfully maneuver across the air in two ways: flying or gliding. True flight uses wings, and only bats, birds, and insects are currently capable of it. On the other hand, gliding is an ability many creatures have, including fishes, reptiles, and mammals. With gliding, however, maneuvers and distances reached are limited.