What Are Some Flying Mammals?

flying-mammals Credit: Rubberball/Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Bats are the only mammals capable of flight, according to Defenders of Wildlife. A bat's wing consists of elongated fingers with a thin membrane stretching between them.

According to the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, nearly 1,000 different types of bats exist in the world, accounting for almost 25 percent of all species of mammals. Defenders of Wildlife explains that small bats might only be 1 inch in length, while larger bats may have a wingspan of up to 6 feet. Large bats, or megabats, are only found in Africa, Australia and India. However, smaller microbats live in most locations around the world, excluding extreme desert conditions and polar regions.

Bats help control insect populations and can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in only an hour. They also pollinate hundreds of plant species, as explained by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.

Although no other mammal can achieve true flight, some mammals are capable of gliding. Gliding mammals create a wing-like structure with a flap of skin that stretches between its front and hind legs, according to Map of Life. They also often have webbing between their fingers and toes as well as a tail or plume that expands horizontally. Some gliding mammals include the flying squirrel, gliding possums and lemurs.