Trunk animals - Long and short

The proboscis of animals can refer to two aspects: on the one hand, to a prolongation of the nose; and on the other, to an extension of the oral apparatus. This structure is usually long or short, and in some cases it is a conspicuous and conspicuous feature, resulting in a peculiar and distinctive feature of the species that possesses it. These formations are tubular, hollow and flexible, but they also vary according to the type of horn we are referring to. Thus, it may be a clearly visible muscle protrusion or, on the contrary, fine and tiny appendages, not so obvious to visual perception..

These structures have various purposes and, depending on their extension, they are used to collect or suck food, touch, drink water and even spray themselves with it, in addition to perceiving odors when it is an extension of the nose. There are many species that have particular trunks, making them quite striking, so this time we want to present you, from Animal Expert, an article about animals with trunks, in order for you to learn more about this topic. Therefore, we invite you to continue reading.

You may also be interested in: Animals with horns - Big, long and twisted Index
  1. Types and characteristics of animal tubes
  2. Examples of animals with long trunks
  3. Examples of animals with short trunks

Types and characteristics of animal tubes

The expression trunk is a synonym of the term proboscis, which comes from the Latin " proboscis, -ĭdis, which means horn, and is defined as a appendix located on the animal's head, elongated and tubular, which is generally used to refer to an extension of the nose of some mammals or the oral apparatus of certain invertebrates. Generally, mammals with proboscis development have a high sense of smell, that they use to locate their food or perceive the smell of a predator, while in the case of invertebrates this formation is used mainly for food.

As for the type of tubes of animals, we can talk about two: short and long. However, these can present different characteristics, among which the following stand out:

  • Long, muscular, flexible and strong structures.
  • They can include the upper lip of the animal when they are an extension of the nose.
  • Retractable, snap-off extensions.
  • Some have tips that prick and inoculate toxic substances.
  • Tubes or proboscis covered with cilia and mucus.
  • Certain muscular or fleshy tubes can be inflated at will of the animal.

¿What are animal tubes for??

Just as there are various characteristics for these formations, they also have various purposes, among which we can mention:

  • To breathe.
  • Press.
  • Suck.
  • Generate sounds.
  • Digging in muddy bottoms to provide food.

Examples of animals with long trunks

The consideration of a long trunk in animals is a relative aspect, since, without a doubt, none would surpass that of the elephant. In this sense, we are going to refer to a trunk as long depending on the size with respect to the body of the animal itself and not in comparison to that of other species.


Let's start with the elephants, who in fact belong to the order called Proboscideans, and are the only current family of that group. In this case, they have a long trunk, which is made up of thousands of muscles and tendons, allowing them to lift, stretch or pick it up with ease, and each movement can be performed with great force.

Elephants use their trunks to breathe, suck up water and then bring it to their mouths or spray their bodies with it, collect food, heavy objects and emit their characteristic sounds, so it is also used to communicate with each other. On the other hand, this organ is highly sensitive to odors, providing them with a fairly developed sense of smell; And if that were not enough, it has a touch function, with which they touch each other.

The Proboscidean proboscis can be so long that when stretched it reaches touch the ground. Let us remember that some individuals can measure up to 4 meters in height. For more information, we encourage you to read this other AnimalWised article on Types of elephants and their characteristics..

Giant anteater

Another animal with a long trunk is the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), which is provided with a prominent snout that ends with its small mouth, in addition to possessing a long tongue with absence of teeth, and on which are the nostrils.

If you want to know what and how the anteater eats, we encourage you to read this other article on Anteater feeding.

Butterflies and moths

In the case of invertebrates, we can first mention butterflies and moths, who have an oral appliance that is provided with a long proboscis that they use for suck nectar from flowers. When the trunk is at rest, it is coiled in the form of a flat spiral, until the animal returns to feed, for which the structure will unwind.

You will find more information about these incredible animals in the article ¿Where do butterflies live and what do they eat??

Worm on tape

We also find the animals of the phylum Nemertinos (tape guano), which are characterized by a fairly elongated proboscis, managing to spread it quickly to capture its prey. It is covered with mucus, which makes it easier for food to stick and get trapped while the proboscis is retracted.

Also, there is the phylum Enteropneustos o acorn worms. In this case, its appendix or trunk is the active part of the animal, with which it feels the mud in which it lives and with the use of mucus strips it collects the food around it.

Examples of animals with short trunks

Among the animals with short trunks, we can find the following species:

Tapir or tapir

One of the animals with a small trunk is that of the genus Tapirus, commonly called tapirs or tapirs, in which a proboscis is formed that can vary in dimension depending on the species and the size of the individual, however, in all cases it gives them a fairly developed sense of smell. It should be noted that the tapir trunk is a extension of your nose.

Elephant seal

On the other hand, we find the group belonging to the genus Mirounga, usually known as sea elephants. The particularity in these is that the trunk is present only in adult males, who develop a proboscis that hangs over the mouth, which they can inflate and use to confront other males in the reproductive season, although also they make loud sounds through this organ.

Saiga antelope

The saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) is a herbivorous animal that lives in Asia and also has a curious nose proboscis or proboscis, which is flexible and wide. These animals live in habitats with changing conditions, and their nose allows them to filter the dust present in the areas in which they are located, in addition to heating the cold winter air before it reaches the lungs.

Proboscis monkey

Another animal with a short trunk is the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) and, although both males and females have a large bulging nose and fleshy tissue, in males it is usually much larger, in fact it exceeds the mouth. When they are bothered or in the reproductive act, the nose swells and reddens. They also use it to make loud sounds when they feel in danger.

Babirusa and wild boar

Two other animals that have small tubes or pronounced noses are the babirussa (Babyrousa babyrussa), a native Indonesian pig, in which its two large tusks that grow upward stand out, and on the other hand, we have the wild pig (Sus scrofa), also an artiodactyl, but of the genus Sus, who has a developed sense of smell.

Moles and shrews

Moles and shrews also have a muzzle-shaped head extension. In the former it is quite flexible, while in the latter it is more pointed and with the presence of whiskers. In both cases they correspond to extensions in which the nose of the animal ends, so that its tubes give them a good sense of smell.

Various animals with proboscis are in a category on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In this sense, African elephants are classified as vulnerable, while Asian elephants are in danger of extinction. For its part, the babirusa is considered in a vulnerable state and the saiga antelope in danger of extinction. In the case of all species of tapirs, they are unfortunately in the same category as above..

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