The webbed foot is a specialized limb found in birds, amphibians, and mammals. Most animals with webbed feet are either semi or fully aquatic, and they spend a good part of their time in the water.
This unique physical characteristic helps animals move faster through water, and it is especially important for chasing prey or escaping predators.
Some animals go a step further, and they’ll use their webbed feet for efficient movement on muddy habitats, as well as a hunting tool.
What animals have webbed feet?
- Fishing Cats
- Sea Turtles
Animals With Webbed Feet
Ducks are semi-aquatic birds usually found in ponds, rivers, and streams. Their omnivorous diet requires both animal and plant based food. Such as aquatic plants, grasses, and small invertebrates.
When we think of animals with webbed feet, ducks are probably the first creatures that come to our minds.
Duck feet are known as palmate feet and are they are also the most common type of webbed feet.
Their unique feet have several roles in everyday activities. Swimming, walking, as well as maintaining the body temperature.
As ducks spend the majority of their time in the water, their webbed feet are a perfect combination of steering and swimming tool.
Penguin’s inability to swim is substituted with exceptional swimming skills. These unique birds are greatly adapted for aquatic lifestyles.
Penguins spend more than 70% of their lives in the ocean, only coming on land for breeding and molting.
Their short legs are equipped with webbed feet, and their wings look like swimming flippers. As they swim, penguins move their wings the same way as birds do during the flight, and so they really look like they’re flying through water.
Some penguin species can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes, and swim at 6 miles per hour.
Read Also: Animals Without Teeth
Otters are mammals found throughout aquatic habitats, such as rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams. They are known for their playful character and for holding hands while sleeping.
What many people do not know is that they are webbed feet animals. Besides the skin between the toes, otters have few other physical adaptations that make their living in water more natural.
Narrow bodies, powerful tails, and abilities to close off nostrils and ears and breath-hold for a lengthy period are essential features for these semi-aquatic creatures.
Otters are speedy swimmers; they can reach speeds of 7 miles per hour, and dive as deep as 60 feet.
Fishing cats are pretty unique creatures. Not only because they are the only cat species who have webbed feet, but they are also excellent swimmers, and they adore water!
Fishing cats live near the wetlands, and they are animals that eat fish as the main part of their diet.
Rounded head for diving, the webbing between front toes, as well as the two layers of fur, would be great physical characteristics for aquatic creatures, let alone cats.
All these adaptations fit perfectly in that lifestyle and help the animal to swim and move in muddy habitats with great efficiency.
Domestic geese are popular poultry, known as friendly and easy to keep birds. While wild ones can be aggressive, especially when defending their chicks.
Like ducks, geese also have palmate feet – three toes that are facing forward are joined with the webbing, whereas the back toe is pointing back, and it is disconnected from the front three.
The palmate feet act like flippers for swimming. Geese pull the water backward with their feet, the skin between their toes spread out, which allows them to move through the water quickly.
For aquatic birds, webbed feet are such nifty adaptations, which makes their lives infinitely easier.
The platypus is one of the world’s most unlike creatures. They are beaver-tailed, duck-billed, and otter-footed mammals that lay eggs. They are the only mammals on the planet that lay eggs.
Platypuses are semi-aquatic animals found in water habitats of eastern Australia. They usually feed underwater by hunting crayfish, shrimps, and larvae. They’ll spend half of their awake hours swimming and looking for food.
They are exceptional swimmers, thanks to the webbing on all four feet and their unique swimming style. The platypus swims by propelling itself with front feet, while their hind legs and tails are used for steering.
It is safe to say that flamingos are one of the most interesting creatures in the world. Today, there are six different extant species, and none of them is like any other kind of bird.
Besides their famous pink color, flamingos are identifiable by long necks, skinny legs, and webbed feet.
The webbing between the feet has two chief roles. First, to assists flamingos to swim more efficiently, and the second to support them while they stand on soft mud.
And given that they spend most of their time moving in the shallow waters, evolutionary adaptations of the webbed feet are very important for these wading birds.
Beavers are semi-aquatic rodents that can be found in many water habitats. They require access to water year-round for swimming, feeding, and building dams.
Beavers are very graceful in the water. They use their big hind webbed feet to propel themselves while their tail serves as a rudder.
When they are submerged, beavers can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes and swim as fast as 5 miles per hour.
However, on land, beavers do not move as well, and they will spend most of their time in the water, where they are much safer from various predators.
When we talk about animals with webbed feet, we must not forget frogs. Frogs are commonly associated with slimy skin, croaking sounds, and metamorphosis, and not so much about the webbing between feet.
Most frogs have hind feet webbed, while others have on both hind and front legs. The flapping skin between the middle of the toes assists frogs primarily in swimming.
Usually, the fastest swimming frogs are the ones that have the webbing on all four. However, besides swimming, webbing also has a use in jumping.
Asiatic frogs, for example, use webbed feet in a special manner. They’ll spread out their webbed feet and employ wingsuit-alike jump, which comes in handy when escaping predators.
Related: Animals That Walk On Two Legs
These large birds are characterized by a long beak, a huge wingspan, and a throat pouch. They spend most of their time in small non-populated islands, hunting their favorite food – fish.
Pelicans usually fish in cooperative groups. Namely, a few up to 20 pelicans would form a “U” shape line and schooling fish into shallow water.
When they are on the ground, they appear awkward and clumsy. Once in the water, pelicans seem much more natural, where their swimming qualities are displayed thanks to their webbed feet.
Unlike geese and ducks, pelicans have all four toes joined with the webbing. This kind of webbed foot is known as totipalmate feet.
Capybaras are the largest rodent species that live near the bodies of water in South America. These semi-aquatic mammals are strong swimmers that can dive and stay underwater for more than 5 minutes.
Capybaras are herbivore animals, and their diet is mainly based on water plants.
They have four toes on the front and three on the back feet. In addition to their slightly webbed feet, capybaras have brittle fur ideal for drying out quickly.
They are so accustomed to aquatic life that they can fall asleep while floating in the water.
Due to the stealing and scavenging of food, seagulls are also referred to as rats of the sky.
Despite being hated by many people, gulls are intelligent birds that can learn, remember, and even pass on behaviors.
Gulls have fully webbed feet that allow them to propel themselves in water. They’ll also use their wide feet to stomp on the ground producing fake rainfall sounds in order to trick earthworms to come out.
When hunting fish, seagulls can dive as deep as 40 feet before they come to the surface.
The last members in our group of animals that have webbed feet are turtles. Apart from their webbed feet, turtles are widely recognized for being slow-moving and quiet animals.
Unlike tortoises, water turtles have either webbed feet or flippers which support their swimming through the water.
Turtles spend the vast majority of their lives in water, and their feet have evolved for such environments. Tortoises, on the other hand, live on land, and their feet are stumpy and padded, and they are not great swimmers.
If you had trouble distinguishing tortoises from turtles, you won’t anymore!