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The Function of Animals' Tails


The tail plays an important role in the life of an animal. They use it as a counterbalance when jumping, sitting, moving, as a navigator when flying or in motion, or for attracting members of the opposite sex.

The beech marten, for example, uses its tail like a parachute. When jumping from tree to tree, it helps it keep its balance.

Some animals utilize their tails like heaters during cold weather. The beech marten's tail is as long as its body and it wraps it around itself during hibernation. Foxes hibernate the same way.

A beaver's body is about 3.3 ft (1 m) long and its tail - 9 3/4″ (25 cm). The tail aids it during hunting. In addition, when the animal chews on wood, it sits on its rear paws and uses its tail for support.


It also serves as an alarm for other beavers. Whenever danger approaches, the rodent slaps the water, where it most often lives, with all its might and warns all family members to immediately hide under it.

Lemurs enjoy lying atop horizontal tree branches and keep their balance using their tails.

Tails also play a part in communication between animals. Dogs, for example, when frightened, curl their tail. When happy, they wag it.

Some species of lizards rip off their own tails when in danger. Soon a new tail grows back in its place. North American squirrels and wood mice also have this ability.


Skunks, on their part, use their tails to spread a particularly unpleasant smell, which serves to thwart their enemies.

Madagascan lemurs use their tails for storing fat during the dry season, in which they sleep for long periods.

Cows and horses swat away flies and mosquitoes with their tails, just like zebras and lions in Africa.

Crocodiles on the other hand, hunt with them. Their tails contain such power that they can easily take down a human.