An animal tail is located on the backside of the animal torso and is a flexible extension of its body. Tails can be found across all classes of animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate. These appendages serve a number of purposes, including: balance, mobilization, communication, and protection against pests. Tail length can be measured in several ways, although two methods tend to be the most common: as an exact length and as a percentage of the entire animal body length. This article takes a closer look at which animals have the longest tails based on the tail to torso length ratio.
Birds With the Longest Tails
Unlike other animal tails, bird tails are not actually an extension of the body, but rather extra long feathers. These tail feathers are used for flight navigation. The award for longest tail in the bird kingdom goes to the male long-tailed widowbird, which can be found throughout Africa. This species has an impressive tail length with between 6 and 8 feathers that measure 20 inches in length, or four times the length of its body. In addition to its easy to identify lengthy tail, the male long-tailed widowbird can also be identified by its white and red shoulders, which stand out against its otherwise solid black color. One of the functions of this long tail is to attract females during mating season.
Fish With the Longest Tails
The longest tail found at the depths of the ocean belongs to the whiptail stingray family, which inhabits warm to tropical waters all over the world from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. These animals have a large, flat-like body that measures up to an average of 6.6 feet in width, although some species are much smaller. Its tail can reach measurements of up to three times the length of its body for a total length of around 20 feet. In the case of this animal, its tail serves for defense purposes. When threatened, a whiptail stingray may attack its opponent with the poisonous barbs located near the base of the tail. The only exception to this is found in the porcupine ray, which does not have a venomous sting.
Mammals With the Longest Tails
The longest tail in the mammal kingdom belongs to a surprisingly small rodent: the long-eared jerboa. This animal can grow to a length of between 2.8 and 3.5 inches with a tail length of between 5.9 and 6.4 inches, or around double its body size. It inhabits areas in the northwestern regions of China as well as the southernmost areas of Mongolia. Despite its long tail, the long-eared jerboa is primarily identified by its large ears and back legs. It is a nocturnal mammal that uses sound to locate insects, which is its primary food source. Its powerful hind legs allow it to leap high into the air to catch these insects.
Reptiles With Longest Tails
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. This lizard, also known as the long-tailed grass lizard, inhabits several countries in Southeast Asia, where it relies on insects as its primary food source. The Asian grass lizard comes in an array of upper body colors like brown, tan, and green with long, dark stripes running down its length.
About the Author
Amber is a freelance writer, English as a foreign language teacher, and Spanish-English translator. She lives with her husband and 3 cats.
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