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.
Long-Tailed Grass Lizard
It's clear why scientists decided to name this lizard the Long-Tailed Grass Lizard seeing as its tail is often up to three times its total body length! Not only is it incredibly long in relation to its body, but it is also prehensile and can be dropped when attacked to enable the animal to escape predation. Over time, it will grow back to its full length, but it does take a while.
These lizards are endemic to much of South East Asia where they enjoy living among the trees. In most cases, their body reaches a length of only 4.7", but the tail can extend another 15" beyond that. They are common in the exotic pet trade where they are prized for their tails, which are the longest in contrast to body length among all reptiles.
- Scientific Name: Takydromus sexlineatus
- Type Of: Lizard
The Long-eared Jerboa may have gotten its name from its rather elongated ears, but they hardly match the majesty that is its tail. This small species of rodent is found in the Palearctic ecozone in the regions of northwestern China, the Takla-Makan Desert, Mengxin, the Qung-Zang Plateau, and the Aerijin Mountain. Their body length comes in at 2.8", but their tail is twice this length.
The longest measured tail of an individual has been recorded at 6.4", which puts this tiny rodent as the number one species of mammal with the longest tail in terms of how it relates to total body length. It may not be the longest tail on the planet, but compared to the other mammals on this list, this little critter's tail is ridiculously elongated and disproportionate to its body.
- Scientific Name: Euchoreutes naso
- Type Of: Rodent
The Long-Tailed Widowbird is best known as "Sakabula" in its home range of Botswana, Angola, Kenya, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Zambia, and Swaziland. These small, colorful birds are best known for their extremely long tail feathers. The males are the ones with the extended feathers attached to their rears; females are comparatively drab in appearance and have tail feathers that extend only an inch or two.
For the males, their tail feathers are what give this bird its name. On most adult males, between six and eight of their 12 tail feathers extend a full half-meter (20") from their bodies. As they fly over their territory, their feathers trail behind them making them look much larger than they actually are. Technically, the tail feathers of a bird aren't their tail, but a useful extension of it. For this reason, the Long-Tailed Widowbird is not higher on this list.
- Scientific Name: Euplectes progne
- Type Of: Euplectes
Whiptail Stingrays make up a family of rays found across the planet's tropical to temperate waters. There are also some examples of the family that exist in freshwater throughout Africa, Asia, and Australia. Like all rays, they are cartilaginous fish with a diamond-like body shape that encompasses their bodies making them look like an underwater kite.
One example of the family, the Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana) can reach a size of up to 1.5 meters in width with a tail reaching to a length slightly longer than the total body width. They come equipped with a small, yet sharply serrated barb, which can be used for defensive purposes to keep predators at bay. They have been known to injure humans, but often only lead to a small wound and painful cut.
- Scientific Name: Dasyatidae
- Type Of: Family