I know some griffins are depicted with bird tails, but in the majority of fiction, artwork, etc. I've seen, they are depicted with lion tails. I am wondering, how exactly would a lion tail benefit the griffin more than a bird one?

I'm writing a story with griffins in it so I would like some help with this detail please.


  • 7
    $\begingroup$ My guess is that the choice is mostly based on aesthetics not any functional property. Have you asked yourself "Is it beneficial to the story to explain why their tails do or do-not have feathers?" $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings the question is valid. A bird's tail will help with aerodynamics and steering, so what advantages could a lion's tail have for a Griffin instead? Is it even an advantage? You can ignore what creature you put this on, its a question on the pro's and con's of lion tail versus bird tail on a flying creature. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Keep off the flies? $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2021 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ Further to Sphennings' comment, doesn't it seem logical that if you yourself can't see the relative benefits, they can't matter to your built world? $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2021 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ P.S. which Griffons are you talking about, as the supplied image depicts three completely different species. The one in the foreground has its wings mounted above its shoulders, well ahead of the front legs. The creatures seated in the background have wings that sprout from above the middle of their ribcages, and the one flying to the right had its wings above its bellybutton. How strange! $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Feb 11, 2021 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


Griffins are mostly land predators

The lion tail is there for counter balance and helps with manoeuvrability on land.

A bird's tail helps with flight. The lack of one suggests that a griffin doesn't spend much time flying.

So, all this means that griffins with a lion tail spend more time on ground, especially hunting. The wings must be something they use seldom. They can still use it to go up or down a cliff for example.

One interesting idea is to use it for scouting - go up a tree or other elevated part of the terrain and then swoop down in the direction where the pray is. Close by but not exactly next to it. The griffin can then use the stealth and hunting tactics of a lion - approach and attack.

One more notable thing about lion's tails - the little puff at the end aids with communication. Lions can swing their tail to communicate with other members of their pride and griffins can also probably do that. It will be quite useful if there are some posted as lookouts up high. They can swing their tail to notify "Prey spotted" or "Everything clear".

This seems like a logical way to use their bodies and features.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've also seen griffins depicted with lion tails and either feather tails or wide membranes of some sort at the base of their tails. IOW, tails that serve both functions. Good points for not having just a bird's tail, though! $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Feb 10, 2021 at 13:31


Because the hairs on the Lion tail channel its flying Magic much better than mere feathers can. Just look at where a griffin's wings are located. Way in front of the center of mass. Without a significant anti-gravity boost from the tail, the Griffin would fly in an ass-dragging posture, and that is simply not dignified!

Without something better than mere aerodynamics to lift its backside, a flying griffin would look like this (plus wings)
enter image description here


Tails are often used as an extra appendage to provide safety in hanging from heights while still being able to grab & tear & hold onto food without needing to balance. That tail can be used as luer then those claws & beak can attach the curious/nosey animal. It could swat potential food from its perch, nest whatever & then the coordinated talons or beak grab it as it flies beneath that falling 'morsel'. Can be brought around & wrapped over the face to protect the eyes while sleeping? The bird can disappear amongst bright flowers, the back end & long narrow tail amongst tree trunks, rises in the soil....blending in for self protection.


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