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MLA Full: "Why Do Animals Have Tails?" YouTube, uploaded by SciShow Kids, 19 July 2018,
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APA Full: SciShow Kids. (2018, July 19). Why Do Animals Have Tails? [Video]. YouTube.
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Chicago Full: SciShow Kids, "Why Do Animals Have Tails?", July 19, 2018, YouTube, 03:38,

Jessi: Hey Squeaks.  Look what we have here.  We just got an awesome question from one of our viewers.  They want to know, 'Why do animals have tails?'  That's such a great question.  Lots of animals have tails.  Yes, including rats, Squeaks, but humans don't.  Personally, I'm pretty glad we don't have tails.  Can you imagine trying to sit in class at school with a tail getting in the way all the time?  

But the real reason other animals have tails is that they need them and we don't.  I bet you can even guess what some animals use their tails for.  When you think of an animal with a tail, what's the first one that comes to mind?  A dog.  That's a great one, Squeaks.  Maybe you have a dog in your family or you know someone who does, and I bet you've seen that dog wag their tail a lot.  When dogs wag their tails, that's often because they're happy or excited.  Since they can't talk using words, their tails do the talking for them, and if you see a dog with their tail lowered between their legs, that might mean they're scared.  So that's one reason some animals have tails, to help show what they're feeling.

Can you think of any other animals that have tails?  Maybe one you'd see on a farm?  Yeah, horses have tails, too.  Sometimes horses use their tails to communicate like dogs do, but their tails are also useful for something else: flicking away all those pesky flies buzzing around them.  Some other animals like cows do the same thing.  That's true, Squeaks, there's another very important example that we haven't talked about yet: rats.  

Rats mainly use their tails for a different reason: to help them balance.  Do you know how sometimes if you're walking along the edge of a curb and you start to feel like you might lose your balance?  You can throw your arms out to the side like this and keep yourself from falling over?  Well, rats and lots of other animals use their tails in the same way.  If they're climbing something really high or narrow where they might fall, they can stretch out their tail to help keep their balance, just like you stretch out your arms.  

Cats use their tails for balance, too, which is really important for them because they jump very high, and some animals like monkeys can actually use their tails almost like an extra hand.  A monkey's tail helps them balance, but they can also use it to hang onto the tree branches and swing.  I know, it would be so much fun.  It'd be like having a swing set wherever you go.

So whether they're using their tails to communicate, flick away bugs, or balance, tails are really important for lots of animals, and there are plenty of other ways animals use their tails that we haven't even talked about, but humans don't have a tail at all, because we don't need one for any of those reasons.  We have other ways to show what we're thinking or feeling like by talking or even just using our faces to smile or frown.

If bugs bother us, we can swat them away with our hands, and since we walk on two legs, we don't need a tail to help us balance.  We can use our arms for that, like when you're walking on the edge of a curb.  So even though tails are really helpful for lots of other animals, for us humans, they would mostly just get in the way.

Thanks for asking such a good question.  Do you have more questions about animals or the human body or anything else?  Ask a grown-up to help you leave a comment down below or send us an email to  Thanks and we'll see you next time here at the Fort.