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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 in muddy habitats, as well as a hunting tool.
What animals have webbed feet?
- Fishing Cats
- Sea Turtles
- Sphynx Cats
- Polar Bears
- Trumpeter Swans
- Blue-footed Boobies
- Natterjack Toads
- Greater Grisons
- Portuguese Water Dogs
- Colombian Weasels
List of 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 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.
Penguins’ inability to swim is substituted with exceptional swimming skills. These unique birds are greatly adapted to 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 flight, so they really look like they’re flying through the water.
Some penguin species can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes and swim at 6 miles per hour.
Read Also: Which Animal Has No 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 of 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 that have webbed feet, but they are also excellent swimmers, and they adore water!
Fishing cats live near the wetlands, and as their name suggests they are primarily fish eating animals.
A 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 that make their lives infinitely easier.
The platypus is one of the most unlike creatures on the planet. 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 its front feet, while its 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. The first is to assist flamingos to swim more efficiently, and the second is 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 with the webbing between feet.
Most frogs have hind feet webbed, while others have 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 With 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 school 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 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!
As cross-breeds, sphynx cats have some features that most feline family members don’t – hairless skin. However, they do have one thing in common, which is their unusual webbed feet.
A sphynx cat’s webbed feet might look weird and out of place, but in reality, every other cat has webbed toes just like they do. But the hairless factor makes every feature they have more pronounced than they usually should be.
You would have noticed the webbed feet pretty clearly if your cat didn’t have massively hairy toes – paws. They might be prone to, but sphynx cats rarely ever swim.
Polar bears live in the artic. They are surrounded mainly by water, be it frozen, snowy, or liquid form. Many refer to them as aquatic animals; it is plausible that they have webbed feet to facilitate swimming.
And boy, are they, good swimmers.
However, their webbed toes are not as intense as that of full-time aquatic animals. It is almost non-existent and gets lost in all that fur and skin. But regardless, a polar bear’s swimming skill is exceptional.
Polar bears can swim as fast as 6 miles per hour! It doesn’t matter if you are on land or in the water; polar bears can give you the chase of your life.
Have you seen “How to train your dragon”? Then you must have an idea of what an axolotl looks like.
If you haven’t ( which I hardly believe), an axolotl is a type of salamander found in the ancient waters of Mexico.
These animals are famous for their ever-young appearance, viral memes, and underdeveloped webbed feet. Although underdeveloped, axolotl’s webbed feet facilitate swimming.
Its feet are made of very long digits connected by a membrane. Axolotls are different from other salamanders as they skip a stage in their life cycle. Hence their underdevelopment.
Axolotls are actually very fun and exotic animals to have as pets.
Alligators spend most of their time submerged in the water, floating, or just swimming, depending on the weather. It is no wonder that all their limbs are equipped for swimming.
An alligator has a long tail and webbed feet that propel them around in the water. For these features, they are a beast and a predator force to reckon with in the water.
Alligators can swim as fast as 32 km per hour, stunning prey and also escaping predators. Their fore feet are partially webbed with only two toes linked, and the hind feet are fully webbed with all toes linked.
Crocodiles are close cousins of alligators, and just like their cousins, they also have webbed feet. But unlike alligators, their webbed feet were not designed to propel them through the water.
Instead, since crocodiles spend most of their time in shallow water or muddy soil, their webbed toes are used as support to avoid slippage and guide them through and around muddy soils.
Crocodiles use a much more powerful body part for swimming fast – their tails. But once the water gets turbulent, they seize to make any effort to swim and rather ride the currents.
Crocodiles can swim as fast as 32 km per hour – at this juncture, it’s safe to say blood is thicker than water.
Unlike other creatures from the list, webbed toes are more than just swimming tools for trumpeter swans.
Trumpeter swans are one of those animals you’ve already guessed have webbed feet because they look like ducks and also spend most of their time in the water.
Their webbed feet are almost part of their every routine. Aside from functioning as a paddle, trumpeter swans make use of their feet’ webs to pull plants they’ll eat from under the water.
They also use the webbing adaptation to stay dry and incubate their eggs. A trumpeter swan’s sturdy webbed feet are used to help launch the heavy bird into flight.
All species of albatrosses have webbed feet and use them for several things. Albatrosses are large water birds and some of the largest flying birds in the world and therefore require more than their 12 ft long wings for flight to be possible.
Albatrosses use their webbed feet to launch into flight, and when they want to land, their feet are also used for slowing down and landing in water.
As a result, the webbing on their feet comes in handy to carry their weight and avoid excessive waddling.
The Blue-footed booby is an awkward-looking bird with a weird mix of colors. They were so weird and funny looking to the point of Spanish European colonists named them Bobby, which is ” bobo” in Spanish and means stupid.
Whenever Blue-footed bobbies go on land, they have this funny walking movement. This is because their feet are webbed.
However, one man’s meat is another man’s poison is the case for a blue-footed bobby when it comes to their feet. They might be horrible in the art of walking, but a Blue-footed bobby utilizes its blue feet to incubate its eggs and paddle.
The natterjack toad is known for being noisy and somewhat unusual. Natter jacks have short limbs ending in partially webbed feet.
With these limbs, they run rather than hop as most toads would- and quite fast if you would. But unlike other toads and amphibians, natterjack toads are very horrible swimmers.
They can barely keep themselves afloat in the water. During the day, they submerge themselves in water and only resurface when it gets dark.
In case you’re wondering, natterjack toads earned their name from the noisy behavior of males in the spring. They are native to northern Europe.
A mink is a semi-aquatic animal that is fully equipped to function as one. Minks have feet that are partially webbed, but you would never guess except if you saw their footprint or lifted afoot.
A mink’s webbed feet propel the animal to swim in the water with great efficiency. It also helps the animal to swim underwater.
Their feet are also used for moving on muddy water. On the flip side, a mink’s skin is like leathery fur.
It is waterproof and effectively keeps the water out of the mink’s fur skin. In the 1900s – 1800s, mink fur was in demand and prized possession.
Greater grisons are very similar to minks. However, greater grisons have a patch of sparsely white or brown hairs.
Greater grisons are members of the weasel family. But unlike other weasels, greater grisons have partly webbed feet that end in long sharp claws used for swimming.
However, despite having feet that are webbed and excessively long claws, Greater grisons are remarkably fast runners and great tree climbers.
Their webbed feet allow them to live in various habitats like rainforests, grasslands, etc.
Portuguese Water Dogs
A Portuguese water dog, as its name suggests, is a water dog originating from Portuguese. These water dogs were bred to be a Fisherman’s hunting companions in the past.
This is because they have features that other non-water dogs have – webbed toes. Coupled with that, Portuguese water dogs are energetic animals and can swim pretty well because of their webbed feet and still keep dry.
But recently, Portuguese water dogs are becoming pet lovers’ favorite. Their blue eyes, furry coat, and beautiful colors are to die for.
Though mind you, Portuguese dogs are a lot to handle and can be frustrating and stubborn for amateurs.
Puffins are pretty unique sea birds that have webbed feet. And because they have such adaptions, puffins are not just great swimmers but also exceptional diving birds.
Their webbed feet are used as rudders to dive deeper into the ocean than most water-diving birds can. A puffin can dive as deep as 200 feet into the water.
However, they can only stay underwater for a few seconds; else, they drown.
Interestingly, puffins have colored beaks that change according to the season, which is why many refer to them as “sea parrots.”
The Colombian weasel, also known as Don Felipe, is one of the many weasels that have webbing on their feet. Although not proven or seen going into the water, many believe they are aquatic animals because of their feet.
As their name implies, Colombian weasels are native to western Colombia and also northern Ecuador. Until recently, Colombian weasels were classified as long-tailed weasels, and this was due to mislabelling.
Colombian weasels were just specimens in a lab, and very little is known of these species (their habitat, etc.). This is why there is uncertainty as to whether they are aquatic animals, semi-aquatic, or terrestrial animals.
Conclusion on Animals That Have Webbed Feet
Examples of animals with webbed feet include penguins, frogs, crocodiles, minks, polar bears, and turtles, among many others. The primary use of webbing on animals’ feet is to help the animal move in the water with more efficiency.
This evolutionary adaptation is perfect for creatures that spend most of their time in the water; hence, such physical characteristics are seen in many aquatic and semi-aquatic animals.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, this article was educative and interesting to read