Imagine how many pairs of shoes you’d burn through if you had to walk thousands of kilometers a year. These animals don’t take planes, trains, or automobiles. Yet they repeatedly cover incredible distances in times so quickly, that they make running a marathon look like child’s play.
How far are you willing to go in search of the love of your life or better weather? What about a good meal?
Well, some animals travel across the world every year, only to return home and start all over.
Why do they take such long trips? What do they do for food during on their long journey? And what creatures are the mightiest travelers of all?
Let’s take a look at six astonishing animals whose step counts are far beyond what you could ever hope to achieve.
Number 6 is the ruby-throated hummingbird.
An adult hummingbird weighs just 3 grams (0.11 oz), but that doesn’t prevent it from covering 800 km (500 miles) in one flight. In total, hummingbirds fly as far as 4,400 km (2,700 miles) every year.
What’s this tiny bird’s little secret? To prepare for its annual round trip from Mexico to Canada, the hummingbird gets really fat – it doubles its fat mass. Then, it burns up all this excess weight during a 20-hour-long, non-stop flight where there’s no available food or water to fuel up on.
Number 5 – the caribou.
You might know the caribou by its other name, the reindeer. No matter what you call these glorious animals, they hold the record for overland migration, covering up to 5,000 km (3,000 miles) yearly.
Native to northern climates, the caribou are in the constant search for food. When summer comes to a close, caribou start their journey north to the Arctic, where there are plenty of grasses and plants waiting for them to eat.
Winter’s first snowfall causes them to turn back south to find shelter, but they continue chewing on lichens and planning their next five-thousand-kilometer long trip across the Arctic tundra.
Number 4 – the monarch butterfly.
This migration definitely makes it to the list of the most visually majestic ones. When fall comes, monarchs pack up and move from their homes near the Great Lakes in Canada to spend their winter vacation in Mexico.
Making their way south to the warmth, they flutter up to 160 km (100 miles) per day. After two months of this daily cardio routine, they finally get to their destination, having flown 4,000 km (2,500 miles.)
Number 3 – the humpback whale.
Humpback whales hold the record for the longest documented mammalian migration. Humpbacks like to spend their summers feeding in Antarctica. Once the summer is over, they head north, to the warm tropical waters of the Pacific. The whales use the spring to mate and breed, before they swim 12,500 km (8,000 miles) south again.
Number 2 – the leatherback turtle.
To feed on delicious California jellyfish, these turtles travel 9,700 km (6,000 miles) across the Pacific.
One female leatherback turtle was so hungry for these jellyfish that she traveled 20,000 km (13,000 miles) – from her Indonesian home to the west coast of the U.S. It took her over 20 months to get there, but she got what she wanted.
And number 1 on the list of epic migrations goes to the Arctic tern.
These birds really love long-distance travel. During their annual journey from the Farne Islands in the UK, to Antarctica and back, these little birds cover 96,000 km (59,600 miles). That’s the equivalent of flying twice around the equator.
No matter how big they are, or how tiny, it’s amazing what some animals will do to take a vacation, get a gourmet dinner, or even line-up a date. And that’s why they’re Crazy Creatures.
- “Meet The Animals That Travel Farther Than Any Other”. Davies, Ella. 2016. bbc.com. Accessed April 1 2019.
- “12 Truly Amazing Animal Migrations | The Weather Channel”. Berger, Michele, 2015. The Weather Channel. Accessed April 1 2019.
- “Mystery Of How The Wandering Albatross Travels 10,000 Miles Is Solved”. 2013. Mail Online. Accessed April 1 2019.
- “How Butterflies Fly Thousands Of Miles Without Getting Lost Revealed By Researchers”. 2015. Sciencedaily. Accessed April 1 2019.
- “Great White Breaks Distance, Speed Records for Sharks”. nationalgeographic.com. Accessed April 1 2019.
- “Record-Breaking Arctic Tern Migration Secrets Revealed”. Holvey, Christina. 2005. bbc.com. Accessed April 1 2019.