Tails? Who needs ’em? Join us on an exploration of the animal kingdom’s rebels – the tailless wonders.
Nature never ceases to amaze us with its diversity. Animals of all shapes and sizes have evolved without tails, adapting to their environments in extraordinary ways.
One of New Zealand’s most iconic birds is the kiwi, which doesn’t have a tail due to its lack of tail feathers. They are part of the ratites, a group of flightless birds that contain well-known members such as rheas, emus, ostriches, and cassowaries. The kiwi is a peculiarity among birds: it cannot fly, has shaggy feathers that resemble hair, powerful legs, and no tail.
2. Guinea Pigs
You may have just read that and thought, “Wait, what? No tail?” That’s right – guinea pigs are tailless creatures. In guinea pigs, the tailbone is fused beneath their pelvis, which is not visible or expressed outside of the body as it is in rats and other rodents. Guinea pigs don’t need a tail because they primarily walk and live on flat surfaces, as opposed to other animals who climb, jump, or use burrows.
Although one may not realize it, Orangutans do not have tails – this is true for other apes as well, such as gorillas, Bonobo monkeys, and others. Since the ape’s last sacral vertebra was tapering, a tail would not have attached to it.
The Koala is an arboreal marsupial that lacks an external tail in contrast to the tree kangaroo. Although they have a tailbone structure in their skeleton, it is not visible on the outside of their body. They might lack a tail, but they actually have extra thumbs on each hand! The opposable thumbs of koalas are excellent for climbing since they are arboreal creatures.
Centipedes do not have tails, but they more to make up for it with their multitude of legs. You’ll be able to spot them in many different types of environments. They are frequently a drab brown-red color combination. All centipedes are venomous and can inflict painful bites so it’s best to admire these creatures from a distance!
Molecular research data tells us that frogs are some of the oldest vertebrates, appearing on Earth over 265 million years ago. When a frog is still a tadpole, it has a tail. Adult frogs, on the other hand, do not require a tail since they have a different swimming style than other swimmers. They use their webbed feet to propel themselves through the water.
7. Stumpy-Tailed Heeler
This next animal might surprise you because you’ve probably never heard of a tailless dog. These dogs are a native breed in Australia and are used for herding cattle. They have long legs and pricked ears. The majority of stumpy-tailed heelers have no tails. Should they have one, it will be non-functional and shorter than 10 cm.
8. Fruit Bats
Bats are the only flying mammals. There are more than 1400 species of bats, and the vast majority have small tails. The fruit bats are an exception to this rule, however, as they don’t have tails at all. These bats are also called Old World fruit bats or megabats.
You might confuse their arms or tentacles for tails, but octopuses don’t have tails. Their bodies are elongated and tapered so that they can fit into small spaces to evade predators and capture prey. Octopuses have eight arms with two rows of suckers on each arm. They use their suction cups to crawl along surfaces and to grip prey or objects.
This is a rodent that doesn’t have a tail. They are about the size of a large dog. Ironically, if they do have tails, they are tiny and vestigial in nature. They look like guinea pigs, but much much larger. It is a sociable animal that can be found in maximum groups of 100 but usually dwells in communities of 10–20 animals.
There you have it – 10 animals that don’t have tails! As you can see, there is great diversity among this group of tailless creatures. Some are venomous, some are furry, and some don’t look like they’re missing anything at all. The next time you see one of these animals, take a good look and see if you can spot the absence of a tail!