First look at a rat will make you wonder why they have tails in the first place. It doesn’t look as pretty as the rest of the body. It’s hairless, ugly, long and unneeded in my opinion.
However, the rat’s tail has evolved over the years to become a perfect accessory for this small animal’s survival in the wild.
So, you may ask – can rats live without their tails? You can find the answer below!
Can Rats Live Without a Tail?
Yes! Rats do survive and live well without their tail. An injury to a rat’s tail is much less serious than an injury to other parts of its body. In the wild, rats would prefer predators grab and amputate their tail so they can get away with their lives.
Why Do Rats Have Tails?
A rat’s tail primarily serves three purposes – temperature regulation, thwarting predators and balance. The rat’s tail is a perfect temperature control and heat loss organ since rats lack the ability to sweat.
The blood vessels open up to allow more blood into the tail as the temperature rises, which results in more heat dissipation from the rat’s body. During winter, the vessels will constrict to keep the rat’s blood in the interior of its body and reserve heat.
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If you have seen a rat crawling along a line, wire, fence, you probably observed the animal’s superb ability to balance on high and narrow surfaces. The precise sense of balance is made possible by the rat’s long, agile tail.
What Is the Structure of a Rat’s Tail?
Rat tails might first look like simple appendages on the surface, but under the skin is a complex structure. Like most mammal tails, the rat’s tail is an extension of its vertebral column.
A lot of veins and arteries run through the tail between the tendons and veins. The rat’s tail is made up of a core layer of bone surrounded by tendons and covered by skin. These blood vessels make the rat’s tail very sensitive to its environment and aid in temperature regulation.
Why Is a Rat’s Tail So Long?
Now that we know the answer to – can rats live without a tail, which is Yes! Let’s find out why a rat tail is so long.
The average rat’s tail is nearly the same in length as its body and noticeably longer than the tails of a lot of rodent species. One reason for the relatively long length of the rat’s tail is that it creates more surface area for heat dissipation.
The rat tail can also be curled around its body to produce warmth. In fact, the length of a rat’s tail is partially determined by the climate it grew up in, balancing and climbing by allowing the rat to wrap its tail around objects.
A rat’s long tail can also be used to prop itself up for additional reach when foraging for food.
Why Are Rat Tails Hairless?
A rat’s tail lacks fur or hair so it can better perform heat dissipation, for better grip on objects and the third is to distract predators.
Does Every Rat Have a Tail?
A large number of rats possess tails. However, there exists a rare genetic mutation that causes a few individuals being tailless. A tailless rat that attains adulthood will battle with many health problems as it won’t be able to regulate its body temperature and will be vulnerable to accidents and predators.
A pet rat without a tail battles the same health challenges as its wild cousins. A tailless pet rat must be kept in a temperature-controlled environment and avoid toys like wheels and ropes that can injure it due to its poor balance.
So, can rats live without their tails? Yes, they can!