Last updated: January 10, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Nate Madden/

They transfer venom into the predator’s body through spines in their tail.

Stingray Scientific Classification


Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Stingray Conservation Status

Stingray Locations

Stingray Locations

Stingray Facts

Snails, clams, and squids
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
They transfer venom into the predator’s body through spines in their tail.
Estimated Population Size
Not known
Biggest Threat
Sea lions, seals, sharks, and other large fish
Distinctive Feature
Flattened body shape and venom filled tail
Gestation Period
Three months
Black and Mediterranean Seas
Sea lions, seals, sharks, and other large fish
Average Litter Size
  • Solitary
Favorite Food
Snails, clams, and squid
Common Name
Number Of Species
It's stinger is razor-sharp or serrated!

Stingray Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
Skin Type
Top Speed
30 mph
15 - 25 years
25kg - 97kg (55lbs - 214lbs)
50cm - 200cm (19.6in - 79in)

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species.

View all of the Stingray images!


Stingrays are very easily recognizable and have pancake-like bodies.

Stingrays are fish that are known to be able to glide gracefully through the water. There are about 200 different species of stingrays in the oceans around the world. They are also found in lakes and freshwater rivers. Categorized as a group of sea rays, they are related to sharks.

Only The Top 1% Can Ace our Animal Quizzes

Think You Can?

They consist of eight families of fish Plesiobatidae, Urotrygonidae, Hexatrygonidae, Urolophidae, Potamotrygonidae, Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, and Gymnuridae. However, stingrays all around the world face threat to survival. Rather than bones, the body of a stingray is just made of cartilage.

These fish also have camouflaging capabilities that allow them to escape their predators.

They are known to hit predators with their tails upon sensing danger, which is particularly effective as a result of a barb on their tail.

An Incredible Fish: Five Stingray Facts!

Skate Fish Vs Stingray- Stingray
Stingrays are fish that have flat bodies that help them camouflage and blend with their surroundings.

©Richard Whitcombe/

  • Related to sharks: As part of a group of fish called batoids, stingrays aren’t that different from sharks. Though there are clear differences in size, shape, and anatomy, both animals are made of cartilage (rather than bone). This similarity has given them the nickname “flat sharks.”
  • Flat-bodied: Stingrays are fish that have flat bodies that help them camouflage and blend with their surroundings and eventually escape their predators. They also sting their predators with the spines or barbs in their tails.
  • Completely boneless: These fish have no bones in their bodies. Instead, they are made of cartilage.
  • Hundreds of stingrays: There are about 200 different species of stingrays, including the ocellate river – the thorntail – and the flower stingray.
  • All alone: These fish are solitary creatures and come together only for breeding or migration.

List of Different Types of Stingrays

A manta ray gliding under a ferocious hammerhead shark.
A stingray hunting with a hammerhead shark.


There are 11 main types of stingrays:

  • Manta rays
  • Giant oceanic manta ray
  • Ocellated river stingray
  • Eagle rays
  • Whiptail stingrays
  • Potamotrygonida
  • Yellow Stingray
  • Round Stingray
  • Butterfly ray
  • Urotrygonidae
  • Round stingrays
  • Spiny butterfly ray

Classification and Scientific Name

Smiling stingray
Stingrays go by the scientific name Myliobatoidei.

©Vicki L. Miller/

Stingrays go by the scientific name Myliobatoidei.

They belong to the kingdom Animalia and phylum Chordata and come from the class Chondrichthyes and order Myliobatiformes. The family and genus that the stingrays belong to are Dasyatidae and Dasyatis respectively.

“Myliobatoidei” is a combination of the word “Myliobatis” and the suffix “-idae.” Myliobatis is rooted in Greek, combining the words “of a mill” (mylo) and “ray” (batis). The suffix -idae is used in the scientific name of zoological families.

Evolution and Origins

Studies suggest that freshwater stingrays originate from South America. As their name suggests, they live in fresh water in the Amazon.

This is in contrast to other types of cartilaginous fish. Most cartilaginous fish do live in a saltwater environment. Additionally, freshwater stingrays eat crustaceans and other invertebrates.

Most scientists believe that the origin of the stingray is related to ancient marine incursions that happened during the Oligocene and Micosene period.


Largest stingrays - Eagle ray
A group of eagle stingrays off the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

©Andrea Izzotti/

Stingrays include ten different families of fish and there are about 220 different species of these fish in oceans, freshwaters, and lakes around the world.

One of the most common freshwater stingrays is the river stingray, and the mother will give birth to live babies, which are called pups.

In the Atlantic Ocean (as well as in the Mediterranean and Black Seas), the common stingray thrives, though only in habitats with depths of no more than 200 feet. They prefer to reside in muddy or sandy regions. In general, none of the species are aggressive without being threatened.

The blue-spotted stingray, however, will attack with their venom, which can be fatal when the victim is stung in the abdomen or heart.

If the sting occurs in other areas of the body, the outcome will not likely be fatal.


Darkspotted Stingray (Himantura uarnak)
Darkspotted Stingray (Himantura uarnak)

©Rich Carey/

These fish have flat bodies that are only made of cartilage which means that these fish have no bones in their bodies.

They have broad fins that are the length of their full bodies. Despite being flat, the fins can often give the stingray a round look. Some of these fish look like they “fly” through the water, but the facts indicate that this is just a smooth flapping motion of the fins.

They are also equipped with defensive tails that usually help them to ward off predators when they sense danger.

Since there are so many species, color can vary drastically. Though the majority of these fish have a grey or dark brown back with a pale belly, they can also be spotted with blue dots, yellow dots, brown dots, and other colors.

The giant oceanic manta ray has black and white markings, while the leopard whip ray matches the pattern of the land-bound mammal it is named for.

Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Skate fish Vs Stingray- Skate Fish
These fish are known to exist in the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

©Natia Tsuleiskiri/

These fish are known to exist in the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

This region is primarily the home of the common stingray, the butterfly ray, the thorntail stingray, and the whiptail stingray. This area allows them to thrive in a calm area, often accompanied by sandy or muddy sea floors, as well as reefs.

Very few of them also exist in the northern Atlantic Ocean, southern Norway, and the Canary Islands, depending on the particular species.

The Bahamas have become so concentrated with these fish that they are a major tourist attraction in Great Stirrup Cay. There is also a stretch from the Western Baltic Sea to Madeira that makes a great home for these fish.

The overall population of the stingray is not known. However, there are enough of them in the world as there are over 200 different species of stingrays.

Diet: Predators and Prey

Stingrays eat clams, mussels, small fish, and shrimp.


The main predators of these fish include sharks and seals. Other large fish also feed on them, since the larger predators in the ocean will go after almost anything smaller than them.

However, their flat body and smooth movements allow them to lie against the floor of their natural habitat to hide. Rather than attacking when threatened, most will simply flee as quickly as they can. For the most part, the primary prey that they go after is fish that are smaller in size than them.

They usually eat clams, oysters, shrimp, and other small fish that are found in shallow waters, though they have been known to eat snails and squids.

For the most part, stingrays are not aggressive and are not very high up on the food chain. However, humans will fish for them to capture as a healthy source of protein.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Baby Stingray in aquarium
Baby Stingray in an aquarium.

©Charles B. Cardell/

Stingrays reproduce using internal fertilization which means that a male stingray fish impregnates the female. This reproduction is preceded by courting, which the male does by biting at the female’s pectoral disc. Some stingrays have longer mating periods, taking over half a year before the female becomes pregnant.

The unborn babies are nourished and grow inside egg yolk inside the body of the female stingray fish. While the size of a litter of stingrays may vary, the birth typically brings 5-15 live young.

Since stingrays have survival instincts in their genes, the young do not stay with their parents after birth.

Stingrays live for around 15 to 25 years in the wild. In captivity, this lifespan can drop down to as little as five years in freshwater tanks with proper care.

Fishing and Cooking

These fish are caught using lines or spears and are safe to consume. They are eaten by humans across the globe.

The most common dish that is made and savored around the world is dried forms of the stingray’s wings. People have often said that they find the meat rubbery and it tastes a lot like shark meat or scallops.

View all 289 animals that start with S

About the Author

My name is Rebecca and I've been a Professional Freelancer for almost a decade. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessing over cats and pet rats.

Stingray FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where are stingrays found?

Stingrays are found in oceans, freshwaters, and lakes all around the world and are known to exist in the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

What eats stingrays?

The most common predators of the stingray include sea lions, sharks, seals, and other large fish.

Are stingrays carnivores?

Yes, stingrays are purely carnivorous and eat fish that are smaller in size than them. They usually eat, snails, clams, and squids besides other small sea creatures.

How do stingrays sting?

Stingrays use the spines or barb in their tails to attack the predator. The defensive spines on the tails then insert venom into the other body.

Are stingrays dangerous?

While the venom that is inserted during the attack through the spine on the stingray’s tail can be very painful for humans, it is very unlikely that it kills humans.

Where do stingrays live?

They usually live in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. They may also live in the northwestern Atlantic Oceans, making this habitat in sandy or muddy shallow waters.

What Kingdom do Stingrays belong to?

Stingrays belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Stingrays belong to?

Stingrays belong to the class Chondrichthyes.

What phylum to Stingrays belong to?

Stingrays belong to the phylum Chordata.

What order do Stingrays belong to?

Stingrays belong to the order Myliobatiformes.

What type of covering do Stingrays have?

Stingrays are covered in Scales.

What are some distinguishing features of Stingrays?

Stingrays have flattened body shapes and venom filled tails.

How many babies do Stingrays have?

The average number of babies a Stingray has is 8.

What is an interesting fact about Stingrays?

A Stingray’s stinger is razor-sharp or serrated!

What is the lifespan of a Stingray?

Stingrays can live for 15 to 25 years.

How many species of Stingray are there?

There are 200 species of Stingray.

What is the biggest threat to the Stingray?

The biggest threats to the Stingray are sea lions, seals, sharks, and other large fish.

How many Stingrays are left in the world?

The population size of the Stingray is unknown.

How fast is a Stingray?

A Stingray can travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

How do Stingrays have babies?

Stingrays give birth to live young.

What is the difference between a skate fish and a stingray?

Even though both are cartilaginous fish, there are vital differences between a skate fish and a stingray. For a start, stingrays are dangerous while the other is relatively harmless. A skatefish tail is typically much thicker and shorter than a stingray’s tail.  They also have different teeth and even reproduce and give birth in completely different ways.  But that’s not all there is to learn about these fascinating fish.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. Wikipedia, Available here:
  2. Live Science, Available here:
  3. California State University, Available here:
  4. National Geographic Kids, Available here:
  5. Sea World, Available here:
  6. All About Stingrays, Available here:
  7. Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, Available here:
  8. National Geographic, Available here:

Newly Added Animals

A Campine Chicken
Campine Chicken

Campine chickens were exported from Belgium by Julius Caesar!

A Tarantula

More than 1000 species of tarantulas have been identified all around the world!

A Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup

Young lesser scaups learn to dive as soon as their down dries.

Most Recently Updated Animals

A Apennine Wolf
Apennine Wolf

Wolves do not howl at the moon. They howl to communicate with other members of their pack.

A Krait

A painless bite that can result in death.

A Monte Iberia Eleuth
Monte Iberia Eleuth

The smallest frog in the Northern Hemisphere!