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16 Types of Animals With a Long Tail (with Pictures)

Tails are a common physical adaptation in the animal kingdom, and provide a wide array of benefits for their owner. They can act as an extra appendage, attract mates, or to help improve balance. No matter what their use, animals with a long tail are not uncommon, and can be found on both land and in the sea. In this article we give you a list of 16 long-tailed animals and give you an idea of just how long their tails are.

1. Spider Monkey

spider monkey in a tree

Scientific Name: Ateles sp. 

The spider monkey is a slender creature with long limbs and a long tail. On average, their body length measures up to 21-inches, while their tail can reach lengths of up to 34-inches. The spider monkey’s tail is extremely dexterous and can support its entire body weight with ease.

They can even pick up objects with their tails! Spider monkeys are omnivores and feast on nuts, flowers, fruits, insects, and spiders, and can live up to 40 years in capacity. They are native to the tropical rain forests in Central and South America.

2. Giraffe

Scientific Name: Giraffa sp.

Everyone knows that the giraffe is an extremely tall creature, with the adults reaching heights of up to 19 feet. But did you know that they also have one of the longest tails? According to National Geographic, the giraffe’s tail can grow to 8-feet long!

These unusual-looking mammals also have long blush-purple tongues, and they only drink once every few days. They are native to various sub-Saharan African countries, and can eat 75-pounds of food a day. The preferred food source for giraffes is the leaves of acacia trees.

3. Thresher Shark

thresher shark | image by Maxime Guilbot via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Alopias vulpinus

The thresher shark is unique because of its long upper caudal fin that can reach lengths of up to 10 feet, which is about half of its body size, according to the Oregon State University. The thresher shark uses its  tail to herd their prey before stunning and killing them.

These sharks are not considered a threat to humans since they have small mouths with small teeth. They can sometimes be seen jumping out of the ocean water.

4. Angola Colobus

black and white colobus monkeys | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Colobus angolensis

The Angola colobus is an African monkey that spends most of its time in tree canopies, rarely touching the ground. They have long tails that range  from 28 to 33 inches, and a body measuring 19 to 27 inches.

They can live up to 30 years in capacity or about 20 years in the wild. These graceful creatures typically live in small packs which include one adult male, as many as 6 female primates, and their young.

5. Red Kangaroo

Scientific Name: Macropus rufus

The red kangaroo is a large marsupial that can weigh up to 200 pounds, stand over 5 feet tall, and has a tail that measures almost 3 feet long. It was once thought that the red kangaroo’s long tail was used for balance and support when they walked.

However, recent research has concluded that their tail is actually used as an extra leg that works to propel the kangaroo. The red kangaroo is considered the largest kangaroo species, and it has a life expectancy of about 8 years in the wild.

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6. Ring-Tailed Lemur

ring-tailed lemur

Scientific Name: Lemur catta

The ring-tailed lemur’s tail has 13 black and white alternating bands, which this mammal is named after. Their long tails measures about 2 feet in length and they are native to southwestern Madagascar.

The lemur’s diet consists of leaves, insects, flowers, herbs, fruit, and even small vertebrates. An interesting fact about ring-tailed lemurs is that when they travel in troops, they keep their long tails up in the air so it acts as a flag to keep the troop members together.

7. Leopard Whipray

whiprays | image by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Himantura leoparda

This member of the stingray family is not as well known as other stingray species. It is found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and stays in more shallow water closer to the shore.

It gets its name from the leopard-like spots covering its body. The leopard whipray has a long, slender tail that can measure up to 4 feet long, with a barb at the end.

8. Long-Tailed Grass Lizard

long-tailed glass lizard | image by Donald Hobern via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Takydromus sexlineatus

This small lizard has a body length of about 3 to 5 inches, but its tail can easily push its total length to up to 12 inches. They are native to China, southeast Asia, and India, and use their tails to aid in balance, as well as with weight distribution.

The long-tailed grass lizard feeds on insects, such as crickets, as well as smaller lizards. These docile and gentle lizards are a popular choice for beginner or novice reptile keepers.

9. Howler Monkey

howler monkey with a prehensile tail

Scientific Name: Alouatta sp.

The howler monkey is a tree-dwelling herbivore with a tail that can reach up to 26 inches. They use their long tail like an extra appendage, gripping or hanging from tree branches.

Since they spend most of their time in trees, their diet consists of items that you would find in said trees, such as leaves, vines, fruits, and flowers. As its name suggests, the howler monkey is rather loud with a large throat. In fact, it is so loud that their “howl” can travel up to 3 miles through the dense forest.

10. Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia

ribbon-tailed astrapia | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Astrapia mayeri

The ribbon-tailed astrapia is a species of bird-of-paradise that lives in subalpine and upper montane forests. They have long tails that can be three times the length of their body, and measure up to 12 inches long.

While these long tails are pretty to look at and help to attract mates, they can be a bit of a bother at times. According to the Bird Academy, the male ribbon-tailed astrapia often has to untangle their tails before they can fly away.

11. Tree Kangaroo

tree kangaroo | image by Richard Ashurst via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dendrolagus sp.

Tree kangaroos have a total body and head length of up to 32 inches, with a tail that measures as long as 36 inches. This long tail helps to balance the marsupial and allows it to move safely throughout the treetops.

The tree kangaroo is native to the tropical rainforests throughout New Guinea and Indonesia, and can even be found in the northern part of Australia. Their species is, unfortunately, declining due to a combination of poaching and deforestation.

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12. Snow leopards

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia

Snow leopards get their names from their spots and rosettes that are similar in appearance to African leopards. However, these cats are actually more closely related to tigers.

A snow leopard uses its long tail that grows to over 3 ft long primarily for balance on the rocky slopes they live on. Here are some facts about snow leopards that you may enjoy!

13. Ring-tailed coatis

Ring-tailed coati
Ring-tailed coati | image by Vassil via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Nasua nasua

Ring-tailed coatis are in the same family as raccoons, and like raccoons they also have banded tails. They use their tails for balance and while they can’t support their weight, they also use their tails for a better grip on tree branches. Their tails are about 30 inches long, which is about the same length as their body. Coatis are social animals and can often be seen traveling with groups of 15+ with their tails stuck straight up in the air! 

14. Jerboas

Lesser egyptian jerboa
Lesser Egyptian jerboa | image by Cliff via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Family Dipodidae

Jerboas are a type of rodent that are adapted to living in the deserts of Asia and North Africa. They are similar to the kangaroo rats that can be found in the southwestern US. Jerboas have long hind legs and a tail that is longer than their body which can grow up to nearly a foot long. These incredible animals don’t actually need to drink water because their body is adapted to survive off very little water, and any water they need they extract from their food. 

15. Eastern glass lizards

Eastern glass lizard slithering
Eastern glass lizard on the shore | image by Cape Hatteras National Seashore via Flickr

Scientific name: Ophisaurus ventralis

Eastern glass lizards at first glance look like snakes because unlike most lizards, they don’t actually have legs. Eastern glass lizards are native to the southeastern US but there are many other species of glass lizards that can be found in other parts of the world. For an animal without legs, it can be difficult to identify where the body stops and the tail starts and it is really only possible to do this by looking at the ventral (bottom) side of the lizard and seeing where the vent (cloaca) is.

Their tails tend to be about 2x the length of their body, and on average their snout to vent length (body length without tail) is about 8 inches. Glass lizards get their name from the fact that their tail may break off into several pieces when they feel threatened.

16. Resplendent quetzal

Resplendent quetzal
Resplendent quetzal | image by Anthony Batista via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Pharomachrus mocinno

The resplendent quetzal is an incredible bird that is found in Central America and southern Mexico. They are typically found in montane cloud forests and can be incredibly secretive and hard to find. They are known for their vibrant blue, green and red plumage. In addition to their fantastic coloration, they also have impressively long tail feathers that can be as long as 3 feet long. In comparison, their body is typically only about 14-16 inches long.