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Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of this stingray is its long, whip-like tail, which may be more than twice as long as its body. Roughtail stingrays are named for the thorny plates, or tubercles, that run along the outer part of their body and base of their tail. Like other stingrays, the roughtail has one or two sharp, serrated spines, which are equipped with venom glands and covered with a thin layer of skin, which is called an integumentary sheath.
These rays are normally gentle, but will protect themselves by lashing their tail. The spine and its barbs pierce the integumentary sheath as they lacerate the skin of the victim, allowing venom to enter the wound.
A Note From the Caretaker
The largest reticulated roughtail stingray at the Aquarium weigh about 150 pounds.
Learn more about the roughtail stingray! Did you know that this stingray’s tail can grow more than twice as long as its body?
The roughtail ray is found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean—in the eastern Atlantic from southern France to Angola, including the Mediterranean Sea, and in the western Atlantic from Maine to the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southward to Uruguay.
The roughtail ray burrows into sediment to feed on bottom-dwelling, or benthic, invertebrates and fishes.
This is the largest stingray at the National Aquarium. This species has been reported to grow as big as 7 feet across and 450 pounds.
The roughtail ray is not a threatened species.
Roughtail rays have few predators and are of only minor importance to commercial fisheries. The ray is marketed fresh, smoked and dried, and is used for fishmeal and oil.
Explore Similar Animals
The National Aquarium—and the aquatic world—is full of amazing animals like this one.