12 Animals with Trunks (With Pictures)

While they are without a doubt the most famous species, elephants aren’t the only animals with trunks

In fact, there are at least a dozen species known to man that have found a smart way to utilize this tool.

Take a look at all the animals with trunks on the list below:

  • Aardvarks
  • Moles
  • Proboscis Monkeys
  • Elephant Seals
  • Tapirs
  • Wild Boars
  • Walruses
  • Anteaters
  • Saiga Antelopes
  • Buru Babirusas
  • Shrews
  • Elephants

*Note: Animals are ranked in no particular order.

Table of Contents

1. Aardvarks

Scientific name: Orycteropus afer

You’ll find this mammal in the bottom two thirds of the African continent. You’ll notice that the aardvark has a long trunk, but the only purpose of that trunk is to breathe and smell.

Along with their mouths, an aardvark trunk helps them keep their tongue tucked inside. This is an impressive feat, considering that their tongue is usually more than a foot long.

2. Moles

Scientific name (family): Talpidae

Moles rely on their noses more than anything else to navigate in the dark. Given that they spend the entirety of their lives under the ground, their sight is terrible, but they have appendages coming out of their trunks.

These appendages are used to feel the environment around them, ensuring that they’re aware of their position at all times. They can move their trunks independently.

3. Proboscis Monkeys

Scientific name: Nasalis larvatus

Out of all the animals with trunks, this one is the most appropriately named, also being called the “long-nosed monkey”. They’re some of the largest monkeys in all of Asia, and their nose can exceed 4 inches in length.

Scientists believe that the nose is so long, especially with males, because larger noses can produce louder noises. Females are attracted to loud vocalizations, so this is most likely a sexual trait.

Essentially, males with longer trunks are more attractive and are more likely to mate.

4. Elephant Seals

Scientific name (genus): Mirounga

Some people believe that elephant seals got their name because of their size – this is wrong, it’s because of their trunks. There are two species within this genus and in both species, only males have trunks.

Similar to our previous entry, it serves a sexual purpose, as they use it to produce noises to scare away other males. However, they also utilize them well to warn other male and female seals about incoming danger.

The trunk is also useful as a rebreather, reabsorbing moisture from exhalations, which comes useful during breeding season.

5. Tapir

Scientific name (family): Tapiridae

Some of the funniest looking animals with trunks, tapir trunks are actually extensions to their nose which they use for smelling and feeding. In comparison to elephant trunks, these trunks are very short and their reach is limited.

They can also use this trunk to hold objects if it’s long enough, but it’s also useful as a snorkel when they’re crossing bodies of water. The trunk is very flexible and they can move it in all directions.

This allows the animal to grab foliage (they’re herbivores) that they wouldn’t be able to reach without this trunk. There are several tapir species – the Malayan tapir has the longest trunk, while the Brazilian tapir has the shortest.

Additionally, their trunks are made entirely out of soft tissue.

6. Wild Boars

Scientific name: Sus scrofa

These animals have a very powerful sense of scent, and their trunks play a large part in that. For example, their sense of scent is so powerful that these animals can smell mushrooms and fungus that are growing under the ground.

However, their olfactory organs are sensitive, while hardy at the same time. They don’t have a problem shoving it into dirt and moving it around. Boars can move the tip of their nose independently.

7. Walruses

Scientific name: Odobenus rosmarus

At first glance, you wouldn’t think that walruses are animals with trunks, but their mouth and nose are shaped to work similarly to actual trunks. Together, they create a vacuum and these guys can suck anything up.

Out of their mouth, you’ll see that there are two tusks. These tusks make them very valuable to poachers, but in everyday life, they use them to hang on to ice glaciers and not float away. They’re also used by males when fighting over territory and females.

8. Anteaters

Scientific name (suborder): Vermilingua

As the name suggests, animals within this suborder have specialized in eating ants and termites, and their trunk proves that. Their long trunk actually has a mouth at the end (unlike the elephant trunk).

They’ll shove their trunk down an ant colony or a termite mound and literally suck out the tiny insects with both the power of air and with their long tongue. Anteaters can also breathe using this trunk, which is helpful when they get into water.

Interestingly, their thin tongue can be extended to greater lengths than the length of their own head. They also have no teeth, as teeth are completely useless to them since ants and termites don’t need to be chewed.

9. Saiga Antelopes

Scientific name: Saiga tatarica

They might look like animals from a George Lucas story, but these antelopes are actually boasting some advanced features. The trunk of this antelope is actually a pair of bloated nostrils that are just facing the ground.

This is actually very impressive from an evolutionary standpoint, as the nostrils filter the dust out during the summer, while they also cool the animal’s blood. They also serve a purpose during the winter, when they heat up the air before it enters the body.

10. Buru Babirusas

Scientific name: Babyrousa babyrussa

This is an incredibly rare animal that you can only find in Indonesia, but their massive trunks are a sight worth seeing. With some of the arguably longest trunks in regard to their own body size, the Buru babirusa has four tusks growing out of its mouth.

Unlike the wild boar, they don’t dig because they lack the rostral bone in their nose. They’re omnivorous, so they feed on roots instead.

11. Shrews

Scientific name (family): Soricidae

These small animals, very similar to moles, have a great sense of smell which is in part thanks to their elongated and flexible trunk. They use it to locate food.

This is crucial, since they have massive appetites and they need to eat seeds, insects, nuts and worms the entire time if they want to stay healthy. Believe it or not, despite their cuteness, some shrews are venomous.

12. Elephants

Scientific name (subfamily): Elephantinae

Currently, there are three living species of elephant: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant and the Asian elephant. Unfortunately, we have driven other species extinct, while poachers are currently hunting these animals because of their tusks.

Elephants are animals with the longest trunks in the world, which they use to grab foliage from shrubs and trees. These massive omnivores need to eat such great amounts of food on a daily basis that we can’t even fathom it.

Their trunks allow them to reach food in spots that would otherwise be unreachable, but they also use them to breathe when crossing bodies of water. They also use it to communicate, spray water and examine objects and other animals.

To End

Even though elephants have the longest trunks, they’re not the only animals with trunks. Anteaters are very impressive in their own right, given that their trunk allows them to literally suck in food from termite mounds and ant colonies.

Saiga antelopes are showcasing another impressive evolutionary trait that allows them to cool the air down, filter it, and warm it up with their trunk before that air enters their body.

In this regard, we also have to remember proboscis monkeys and elephant seals, two species that use their large noses primarily to mate and establish dominance.

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