Click here to learn more.
For some creatures, tails have some pretty spectacular uses.
Geckos, for example, are capable of shedding their tails when they feel threatened. Believe it or not, the disconnected tail will continue to wiggle in order to distract predators while the gecko makes a quick getaway.
Opossums have prehensile tails, which they can wrap around branches to help them scale trees. And some birds, such as peacocks, use their tails to attract the boys.
For the most part, canines and felines use their tails to communicate — from the wide, sweeping wag of a happy dog to the quick tail swish of an annoyed cat.
In canines, a tail may also serve as a type of rudder to help stabilize dogs in the water. In some cases, it can also entertain a bored dog who will chase it in relentless circles.
Although both dogs and cats have supracaudal glands on the surface of their tails, the reason for this is unknown. In dogs, the scent of these glands may help identify them to other canines. In cats, excretions from these glands may be used to mark territory.
Although the early Romans believed that docking a dog’s tail could help prevent rabies, we know that’s just not the case. But some canine breeds, such as working or hunting dogs, have had their tails cropped to make it easier to do their jobs; this remains a controversial practice because many veterinarians question the ethics and medical necessity of tail docking.
Since many pets are born with little to no tail, such as Manx cats, it’s pretty clear that a long tail isn’t necessary for a happy life.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the sound of an energetic "welcome home!" tail thumping against the floor. So even if tails have no other use, this is enough in and of itself.
For answers to other curious questions about animals, check out our other "What's the Deal With . . ." stories.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
For the next four days, patrons of the café will be able to meet 16 adoptable kitties as they sip on espresso…
The last Friday in April is dedicated to undigested cat fur. To celebrate, we found photos of the cutest kitties…
A new film features 11-year-old Cory Gould, who has Asperger syndrome, and his incredible knowledge of dog breeds.
Disco, who knows more than 80 phrases, songs and sounds, is a YouTube star who's beloved around the world.
We polled Vetstreet readers and veterinary professionals to see if they drift off to sleep with their cat or dog…
Want to make some enemies in your vet’s waiting room? This funny new video from Dr. Andy Roark shows you how.
The silky-coated Burmese is a compact but heavy feline who loves to show off his impressive athletic skills.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.