Why Do Animals Have Tails?

Why Do Animals Have Tails?

Animals have tails for a variety of reasons such as balancing, defense, navigation, conversation, warmth, as part of mating habits, and marking territory.

Tails exist in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from tiny tails with no function to gigantic tails half the length of an animal’s body.

Based on physiological adaptations, animals use their tails for a range of factors. A tail’s function varies depending on the animal, and although some tails grew for numerous reasons, others evolved for a specific purpose.

We’ll go over some of the most important roles of tails in this post, as well as particular examples of how animals use them in their habitat.

The Origins of Early Humans and Tails

The tail was no longer necessary when early humans started dwelling on the ground, as it had been when our forefathers were living in trees.

We didn’t have to stay out in trees anymore, so the tail’s utility was restricted. In actuality, it would have been an obstacle to easy movement, hence it vanished over many generations. We still have a tailbone that supports us while we sit, but it is no longer visible.

Animals have kept their tails since they could still use them. Nevertheless, all animals utilize their tails for a variety of tasks, the most common of which is balancing, defense, and navigation. Just a few tamed animals utilize their tails to interact and share their emotions.

Rarely, newborns are being born with what seems to be a tail. That, however, is not the case. Most of the time, these “tails” are tumors, cysts, or parasitic twins. They’re a real extension of the spine, however, they’re entirely boneless, consisting of a soft tunnel comprised entirely of fat and tissue.

Spina bifida is a malformation of the spine that causes these types of tails to develop. Doctors will surgically cut the tail with no damage to the infant in such cases.

What is the Purpose of an Animal’s Tail?

It’s hard to gauge exactly how many roles tails provide because there are so many. While certain tails have developed to accomplish a specific duty or meet a biological necessity, the purpose of other tails is unknown.

To Achieve Balance

Tails support animals with balancing, which is among the most likely causes for their evolution. The tails allows them to stay balanced in dangerous situations or travel fast and efficiently over rough terrain.

Cats, for instance, evolved tails to aid stability when traveling on thin or bumpy terrain. Furthermore, when running or leaping onto prey, their tails assist them in maintaining balance. When bouncing at rapid speeds, a kangaroo uses its tail to keep balance.

Furthermore, when jumping from tree to tree, squirrels rely on their curly tails for balance. The animal’s tail assists them in their locomotion in these scenarios. A tail developed for balance, not for direction, could define the difference between a hunter seizing its prey or prey evading from a predator.

As a Means of Self-Defense

The significance of tails as a form of defense is another important reason why animals evolved tails. Predators have evolved strategies to mislead, divert, or discourage animals that utilize their tails for defense. Rattlesnakes’ tails, for one, evolved to assist them, alert predators, not to get too close.

Whenever the keratin chucks in their tails rub along, they make a rumbling noise, hence the term “rattlesnake.” In the meantime, some lizards, such as green iguanas and bearded dragons, can separate their tails to fool predators. The lizards would lay their tails away and anticipate that the predator might misinterpret their tail for an easy lunch, allowing them to flee quickly.

To Help Them in Navigating

A tail acts as a critical mode of navigation for several animals, or as a tool that aids in more uncomplicated navigation. Animals that rely on their tails to navigate have adapted to settings in which traveling without one would be difficult. Fish are one of the most evident animals that utilize their tails to navigate.

The majority of fish propel themselves through the water by using their tails. They exert force by swaying their tails from sideways and changing their direction with torques and bends.

As a Means of Communicating

Several animals use their tails to communicate with each other. These animals use their tails to send short messages to friends and enemies, such as alerting allies of surrounding threats or emotional expression. Some deer species, for instance, display the white undersides of their tails as a caution sign of impending danger.

When beavers spot predators, they smack their tails against the water as a crude warning. Additionally, every pet owner is aware that a dog’s tail can reveal a great deal about its mental state.

A wagging tail indicates that a dog is joyful or cheerful, but a floppy, limp tail indicates that the dog is disturbed or worried.

As a Mating Ritual or to Declare Territory

Rarely, animals would use their tails in their mating habits. These animals most likely evolved tails to assist them to stand out from possible breeding opponents.

One of the great examples is when it comes to particular bird species, such as birds of paradise. To entice females, men grow complex tail feathers that they carefully flick to and fro.

Certain creatures, on the other hand, utilize their tails to signal to those other males that they are unwanted. A male hippopotamus uses its tail as a rotor to blast his dung across a large region, signaling to other males that they’re not allowed.

Types of Tails

There are two types of tails: prehensile and non-prehensile. Prehensile tails may grab and hold objects. The prehensile tail serves as a fifth limb for the animals.

Many travelers on safari have discovered this a few seconds too late when their stuff went right before their eyes. Monkeys are the most famous mammals with prehensile tails. The tails of most of the other animals have non-prehensile.


We have focused on many examples of why animals have tails in this article. The tails of animals are used for a variety of purposes. We don’t need tails because we humans manage these issues with our feet and hands.

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