Animals come in many shapes and sizes, including varying feet and hand features that help them survive. Some have what we called webbed feet, meaning their toes are not separated. Instead, they are connected by a piece of skin, so their toes can’t move individually. The evolution of animals with webbed feet is mostly because of their need to navigate water or walk on different land conditions.
These animals have adapted over generations in order to survive their environments. This article will cover 14 animals with webbed feet, including information on their natural habitats or lifestyles that influenced the need for webbing on their feet.
Let’s find out more!
14 animals with webbed feet
Here is a list of 14 animals that have evolved to have webbed feet. While you might know about some of them, there might be a few that surprise you!
1. North American beavers
Scientific name: Castor canadensis
North American beavers are semi-aquatic mammals, known for creating dams in rivers. Their webbed hind feet help them swim by propelling them through the water. They can also produce oil over their fur to keep them warm when in cold waters.
These animals can grow up to 4 feet long and typically weigh over 60 pounds. You can find them throughout North America, except in most of Florida and desert regions in the southwest states.
2. Eastern mole
Scientific name: Scalopus aquaticus
The common mole, also known as the eastern mole, is a grayish-brown animal living underground with limited eyesight. They can grow around 6.3 inches long, including a short 1.2-inch tail.
Instead of evolving for the water like most webbed feet animals, they have front feet that are specially adapted to digging. Their feet are spade-shaped, large, face sideways, and have webbed toes that help them move dirt as they dig burrows. In certain soils, they can dig at a rate of 6 miles per hour!
Scientific name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Also known as water hogs or carpinchos, the capybara is a large South American rodent and one of the biggest rodents worldwide. They can weigh between 75 and 150 pounds and grow 1.5 feet tall and 4 feet long.
These semi-aquatic animals live in rainforests and savannas by lakes, rivers, or ponds. They use their webbed feet to maneuver in the water as well as to walk on soft, muddy ground without sinking. They can also see and breathe when swimming, including staying underwater for up to 5 minutes.
4. Duck-billed platypus
Scientific name: Ornithorhynchus anatinus
The duck-billed platypus is native to Australia and spends half of their time in rivers, lagoons, and streams searching for food. Their webbed front feet and partially-webbed back feet act like flippers that allow them to easily navigate the water. Female platypuses can also use their feet to dig and build burrows to nurse and protect their young in.
These animals have flat heads and bills that look like those of ducks, however, longer and wider. They grow around 15.35 to 23.62 inches and can weigh between 1.76 and 5.51 pounds.
5. Sea otter
Scientific name: Enhydra lutris
As their name suggests, sea otters live in coastal waters, especially areas with soft sediment or rocky ocean bottoms. These mammals typically grow to a size of 4 feet and weigh 65 pounds.
They can be found resting, eating, and grooming themselves at the water’s surface, typically floating on their backs. To adapt to the water, they have webbed feet to help them swim and dive for food as well as water-repellent fur to keep them warm and dry.
6. American bullfrog
Scientific name: Lithobates catesbeianus
The American bullfrog is an aquatic amphibian that needs water to survive. You can find them in lakes, rivers, ponds, or bogs, especially still, shallow, and warm waters. Their long powerful hind legs also have webbed feet that make them powerful swimmers.
Their front toes don’t have webbing and the fourth digit of their back toes also doesn’t have webbing. These frogs are typically olive green and grow 3.6 to 6 inches long. They prefer eating prey they can find in the water, including crustaceans, tadpoles, frogs, and fish eggs.
7. Common frog
Scientific name: Rana temporaria
The common frog goes by many names, including the European grass frog, European brown frog, and European pond frog. They grow between 2.4 to 3.5 inches and have coloring ranging from grayish-brown and brown to olive-green and olive-brown. These frogs have long powerful legs and webbed feet that allow them to jump far and swim effectively.
As semi-aquatic frogs, you can typically find them in damp habitats near marshes or ponds. Females also lay eggs in the water, usually 1,000 to 2,000 eggs in large clusters that float near the surface.
8. Mallard ducks
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
The most common species of duck in North America is the Mallard duck, with the males having the distinctive glossy green head and yellow bill. Females are mottled brown with brownish-orange bills.
Although they can fly, these ducks spend most of their time in water bodies floating and diving for food. They use their webbed feet like paddles to let them push against the water. They also have air sacs and hollow bones in their body, so they weigh less than the water and stay stable floating with half their body submerged.
9. American flamingo
Scientific name: Phoenicopterus ruber
The American flamingo is a large bird and the only flamingo species native to North America. While they are mostly in Central and South America, you can also find them in Louisiana and the south of Florida, including the Keys.
Flamingos are known for standing on one leg in the shallow end of waterbodies. Their webbed feet let them swim efficiently as well as help them walk on soft mud without sinking. These birds are typically around 43 inches tall, with wings spanning 5 feet.
10. Trumpeter swans
Scientific name: Cygnus buccinator
Trumpeter swans are aquatic birds that typically use their webbed feet to pump water up and down to create currents that help them swim. They are also unique in that they use their webbed feet for incubation as well. These swans will cover their eggs with their feet to keep the eggs warm.
You can find trumpeter swans in North American lakes, large rivers, and ponds, typically in the northwestern states and Canada. They are considered the heaviest bird species native to North America, weighing between 21 to 30 pounds. Their eggs can also be up to 5 inches long!
11. Humboldt penguins
Scientific name: Spheniscus humboldti
The Humboldt penguin is a large flightless bird that grows around 28 inches long and weighs 9 pounds. They are native to South America from Chile to Peru. The sea currents running along the coast of these countries were named after the explorer Alexandar von Humboldt and also where these penguins get their names.
They spend most of their time nesting in coastal caves and hunting in the oceans along coastlines. Humboldt penguins have legs set far back on their body and webbed feet that help them dive, swim, and steer like rudders in the water. Their diet mainly consists of fish local to their habitat.
12. Sphynx cat
Scientific name: Felis catus
All cats have partially webbed feet to hunt prey by the water, however, the sphynx’s webbing stands out more compared to most cats. This is because they have extra-long, big toes and hairless bodies that make the webbing more noticeable. The feet webbing of all domestic cats classified as Felis catus are remnants of their evolution from larger and wild cats that needed options for hunting outdoors.
The Sphynx cat’s lack of hair is a natural genetic mutation. Some of them have fine hairs or have smooth skin with the texture of chamois leather. They have large ears, muscular bodies, and generally grow 8 to 10 inches tall.
13. Siberian huskies
Scientific name: Canis lupus familiaris
Yes, some dogs have webbed feet! Siberian huskies are dogs that are originally from the arctic region in snowy plain habitats. The webbing on their feet makes it easier for them to run or walk on snow and ice. Their spread paws act like snowshoes, where the surface area helps distribute their weight evenly.
These dogs have high endurance and are typically used as sled dogs since they can run so effectively on snow. They also have a double coat of fur that keeps them warm, including an outer coat that repels water and protects them from wind and snow.
14. Cocker spaniels
Scientific name: Canis lupus familiaris
American water spaniels are muscular medium-sized dogs growing around 15 to 18 inches in height. These dogs are common companions for hunters, especially to retrieve waterfowl because they love swimming. Their water-resistant double coating fur and webbed feet make them especially agile in the water.
They are intelligent and very energetic, so you have to give them plenty of exercise to help them release their energy. Similar to domestic cats, all domestic dog species are classified as Canis lupus familiaris. This particular species was bred in the 18th century in the midwestern region of the U.S.