Perhaps because we humans lost our tails long ago, many people find the tails of other animals to be fascinating. How much joy do you get when your dog's big, animated tail gets to wagging when they see you? That fascination extends to some animals around the world whose tails are unusually long, strong, prehensile, or just plain weird. Throughout the animal kingdom, most animals have a tail of one sort or another, but the animals with the longest tails are some of the most magnificent.
Even if their tail no longer serves a purpose, some animals have evolved to display the biggest extravagant tails the likes of which humans can only look upon with envy. Long tails can be found from the smallest mammal to the largest reptiles, but not all are as long as you might think. For this list, an animal's tail needs to either break records or have a ratio longer than their body-length to the point it is obvious and strange.
The Ring-Tailed Lemur is so-named due to the presence of alternating black and white rings along its rather impressive tail. Like all lemurs, it is endemic to the island of Madagascar where it spends most of its time among the tall trees of the forests. These highly-social primates differ from monkeys in that their tails are not prehensile. They are primarily used to aid in balance, communication and group cohesion.
The tails are considerably longer than their overall body lengths, which can reach around 18" in the largest examples. Typically, their tails reach as much as 25" in length and make up some of their most distinctive markings. Interestingly, the number of rings on their tails matches the approximate number of caudal vertebrae, which is typically around 25.
- Scientific Name: Lemur catta
- Type Of: Lemur
There are four distinct species of Thresher Shark roaming the oceans of the planet and all of them have a characteristically elongated tail. Their tail, specifically the caudal fin along the upper portion of the tail is what gives the Thresher Shark its name. It is far longer and more enhanced than in other species of shark and can reach a length as much as the full body length of the shark itself.
While they come equipped with the standard issue shark's teeth and jaws, the Thresher Shark uses its tail as a weapon to stun its prey. It has the ability to whip it about and smack an intended victim hard enough to make it easy prey. The largest of the family, the Bigeye Thresher (Alopias superciliosus), can reach a total body length of 16 feet (4.9 meters) with half of that being the caudal fins of the tail.
- Scientific Name: Alopias
- Type Of: Alopiidae
The Angola Colobus is a species of Old World Monkey that is primarily distributed in central, sub-Saharan Africa with ranges extending through much of the Congo Basin to parts of Eastern Africa in Kenya and Tanzania. The species gets its name from the nation of Angola, but is rarely found there. Like most species of monkey, their tail is used for providing balance while they run along the branches of trees and possibly also as a form of communication.
The Angola Colobus monkeys are about medium-sized for monkeys reaching up to 30" in total body length and a weight of as much as 30 lbs. (14 kg). their tail is significantly longer than their bodies and can reach up to one and a third times as long as their total body length.
- Scientific Name: Colobus angolensis
- Type Of: Black-and-white colobus
Upon first glance, it's easy to mistake the Eastern Glass Lizard for a snake, but it is, in fact, a lizard. That's an important distinction for this list because a snake's tail is actually only a tiny portion of its body. Many are only an inch or two in length regardless of the length of the snake's whole body, but for this lizard, it's an entirely different ratio.
While it is a lizard, you may have noticed it has no legs, which is undoubtedly why people misidentify them as snakes. Unlike snakes, they have moveable eyelids, external ear openings, and an inflexible jaw. Their total length can reach up to 43" with a large portion of that being their tails. The Eastern Glass Lizard's tail is often over half their total body length. They get their name due to their tails ability to breaking off by shattering from the body "like glass." Over time, the tails will regrow like in other species of lizard.
- Scientific Name: Ophisaurus
- Type Of: Anguidae