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13 Animals With Amazing Long Tails

Our world is brimming with extraordinary biodiversity, where each species plays a unique role in the circle of life. From the land-dwelling Ring-Tailed Lemur of Madagascar to the deep-sea Thresher Shark, these animals illustrate the vast range of adaptations that life on Earth has taken.

In this article, we’ll journey across continents and dive deep into the seas to explore a collection of remarkable creatures that, despite their differences, share one fascinating commonality: they all possess distinctive, lengthy tails that play pivotal roles in their survival and everyday life.

Ring-Tailed Lemur

Animals with long tails - Ring-tailed lemur
  • Scientific Name: Lemur catta
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Madagascar

Found exclusively in the forests and semi-desert regions of Madagascar, the Ring-Tailed Lemur is a fascinating creature. Its long, black and white ringed tail, stretching up to 24 inches in length, is longer than its body and contributes significantly to its distinct look.

The tail is used for balance when leaping between trees and also serves as a flag, held high during travel to keep troop members together. These primates possess a complex social structure and communicate using a variety of vocalizations and scent markings.

Did you know? While lemurs are known for leaping, Ring-Tailed Lemurs prefer to spend more time on the ground than any other lemur species.


Animals with long tails - Giraffes
  • Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Sub-Saharan Africa

Standing as the tallest terrestrial animals on earth, Giraffes are an extraordinary spectacle of nature. While their elongated necks first draw attention, their tails are equally impressive, reaching lengths of up to 8 feet.

The giraffe’s tail ends with a tuft of hair, much like an elongated horsetail, which it uses to swat away pesky insects. In the wild, these creatures roam the open grasslands, dining on the leaves of acacia trees, their preferred food source.

Did you know? Giraffes only need to drink once every few days. Most of their water comes from the luscious plants they eat.

Asian Grass Lizard

Animals with long tails - Asian grass lizard
  • Scientific Name: Takydromus sexlineatus
  • Type of Animal: Reptile
  • Found in: Eastern and Southeastern Asia

The Asian Grass Lizard is a slender, quick-moving reptile with a tail that measures many times the length of its body. The tail, which assists in maintaining balance as the lizard maneuvers through grasslands, is also used defensively.

When a predator grabs onto the tail, the lizard can voluntarily detach it and escape. Over time, a new tail grows back. The lizard’s greenish-brown coloration helps it blend into its surroundings, providing an excellent camouflage against predators.

Did you know? Like many other lizards, the Asian Grass Lizard can detach its tail when threatened to distract predators.

Spider Monkey

Animals with long tails - Spider monkey
  • Scientific Name: Ateles spp.
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Central and South America

Spider monkeys are aptly named for their long, spindly limbs and long, flexible tails, which give them a spider-like appearance. Their prehensile tails are a marvel of nature, functioning like a fifth limb.

Spider monkeys are arboreal, spending most of their time in the high canopy of tropical rainforests. Their diet primarily consists of ripe fruits and leaves, but they will also consume insects and bird eggs.

Did you know? Spider monkeys have a unique habit of shaking their branches vigorously to communicate or to deter potential threats.

Long-Eared Jerboa

  • Scientific Name: Euchoreutes naso
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Mongolia and China

The Long-Eared Jerboa is a small nocturnal mammal that lives in the deserts of Mongolia and China. Its most noticeable features are its long hind legs, used for hopping like a kangaroo, and its exceptionally long tail, which provides balance during its extraordinary leaps.

Their large ears, larger in proportion to their body size than any other mammal, help them detect the movements of nocturnal insects which make up their primary diet.

Did you know? The Long-Eared Jerboa has one of the largest ear-to-body ratios of any mammal, which help them to dissipate heat and locate insect prey.

Snow Leopard

Animals with long tails - Snow leopard
  • Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Central and South Asia

Snow leopards are remarkable creatures adapted to life in the cold, high altitudes of Central Asia. Their beautiful fur acts as perfect camouflage against the rocky terrain, while their long, flexible tails help them maintain balance on steep slopes. The tail also serves as a cozy wrap for protection against the harsh cold. Despite their big cat status, Snow Leopards cannot roar due to the physiology of their throat.

Did you know? Snow leopards can’t roar. Instead, they make a unique sound known as a “chuff.”

Also read: Why Do Snow Leopards Bite Their Tails?

Angola Colobus Monkey

Animals with long tails - Colobus
  • Scientific Name: Colobus angolensis
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: Central Africa

The Angola Colobus Monkey is an arboreal primate found in the forests of central Africa. It has a striking black body and face contrasted by long, white-fringed black tails and a mantle of white hair around its shoulders.

The tail can grow up to twice the length of the body, acting as a balance when these monkeys traverse the treetops. Their diet consists mostly of leaves, supplemented with fruits, seeds, and flowers.

Did you know? Unlike most primates, Colobus monkeys have no thumbs. This adaptation allows them to quickly navigate treetops and evade predators.

Long-Tailed Widowbird

Animals with long tails - Widowbird
  • Scientific Name: Euplectes progne
  • Type of Animal: Bird
  • Found in: Africa

The male Long-Tailed Widowbird is one of the most dramatic-looking birds in the animal kingdom due to its extraordinarily long tail, which can measure up to 20 inches. This bird is predominantly black with some striking red and white shoulder patches.

The males display their long tails during mating season, performing daring aerial acrobatics to attract females. Females, meanwhile, are more inconspicuously colored in dull browns and lack the male’s impressive tail length.

Did you know? During flight displays, male widowbirds can beat their wings up to 14 times per second to stay aloft with their long tails!

Indian Giant Squirrel

Animals with long tails - Indian giant squirrel
  • Scientific Name: Ratufa indica
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: India

The Indian Giant Squirrel, or Malabar Giant Squirrel, is known for its large size, colorful fur, and long, bushy tail that can measure up to 2 feet in length. The tail assists in maintaining balance as they leap between trees in their forest habitat.

The fur’s vibrant colors, which can range from black and brown to maroon and purple, help to camouflage it among the tree bark and leaves. They are solitary creatures that mark their territories using scent glands located on their feet.

Did you know? These squirrels create several nests within their territory, often sleeping in a different nest each night to avoid predators.

Thresher Shark

Animals with long tails - Thresher shark
  • Scientific Name: Alopias spp.
  • Type of Animal: Fish
  • Found in: Temperate and tropical oceans worldwide

The Thresher Shark, named for its long, whip-like tail, stands out among other shark species. The tail, which can be as long as the shark’s body itself, is used in a unique hunting technique where the shark stuns its prey by whipping its tail forward with incredible speed. There are three known species of Thresher Shark, all known for their preference for deep water and a diet mainly consisting of small schooling fish and squid.

Did you know? Thresher sharks are one of the few shark species known to leap fully out of the water, a behavior known as breaching.

Basilisk Lizard

Animals with long tails - Basilisk
  • Scientific Name: Basiliscus spp.
  • Type of Animal: Reptile
  • Found in: Central and South America

Known as the “Jesus Christ Lizard” for its ability to run on the surface of the water, the Basilisk Lizard is an exceptional creature. Its long, slender tail, which accounts for about 75% of its total body length, is used for balance and can help with steering while running across water. This reptile is predominantly found near rivers and streams in lowland forests, where it feeds on insects, small mammals, and even other reptiles.

Did you know? Basilisk lizards can run at a speed of 1.5 meters per second across the surface of the water before they start to sink.

Howler Monkey

Animals with long tails - Howler monkey
  • Scientific Name: Alouatta spp.
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Found in: South and Central America

As one of the largest New World monkeys, Howler Monkeys are notable for their long prehensile tails, which they use as a fifth limb for gripping branches and gathering food. This tail can grow up to 5 times the length of their bodies. But their most famous feature is their howl, a sound produced by a large throat sac that amplifies the noise. This call can be heard up to 3 miles away and serves as a territorial signal to other groups of monkeys.

Did you know? Howler monkeys are considered to be the loudest land animal, and their howls can be heard up to 3 miles away.

Reticulate Whipray

Animals with long tails - Whipray
  • Scientific Name: Himantura uarnak
  • Type of Animal: Fish
  • Found in: Indian and Pacific Oceans

The Whiptail Stingray is a cartilaginous fish known for its diamond-shaped body and extremely long, whip-like tail. The tail, which can reach up to three times the length of its body, is equipped with venomous stingers for defense against predators. They are bottom-dwellers, typically found on sandy or muddy sea floors where they feed on small fish and invertebrates.

Did you know? Unlike most rays that birth live young, Whiptail Stingrays lay eggs that are encased in leathery capsules known as “mermaid’s purses.”

What Animal Has The Longest Tail?

Giraffes have the longest tails of any land mammal—up to 8 feet (2.4 meters)! That’s longer than most humans are tall! However, if we consider all animals, spider monkeys are close with a tail 1.9 times their body length. The Asian grass lizard has the longest tail in both the reptile and animal world. Its tail measures approximately 10 inches, which is three times the length of its body.

Why Do Animals Have Tails? What Are The Uses Of Their Tails?

 Animal tails are used in a variety of ways. They provide a source of locomotion for fish and some other forms of marine life. Many land animals use their tails to brush away flies and other biting insects.

Most canines use their tails to communicate mood and intention. Some animals also use their tails as a means of social communication. These animals use their tails to communicate simple signals to friends or foes, such as warning allies of nearby dangers or conveying emotions. 

For example, some deer species flash the white underside of their tails as a warning side indicating potential danger. Tails can also be used for defense, navigation, conversation, warmth, as part of mating habits, and marking territory.

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, the world around us is filled with remarkable creatures with long tails, each serving a unique purpose. From the high tree canopies inhabited by Spider Monkeys, to the deserts roamed by Long-Eared Jerboas, and the depths of the oceans where Whiptail Stingrays dwell, these creatures demonstrate the incredible variety and adaptability of life on Earth.

The diversity of these species, their adaptations, and their compelling stories underscore the importance of preserving our planet’s biodiversity, not only for them but for future generations to discover, learn from, and be inspired by. As we close this journey, we hope you have gained a new appreciation for these long-tailed wonders and their fascinating lives.

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