How long is a giraffes tongue?

Giraffes use their height to good advantage, and browse on leaves and buds in treetops that few other animals can reach... but even the giraffe's tongue is long!

Giraffes eat most of the time and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew it as cud. A giraffe eats hundreds of pounds of leaves each week, and must travel miles to find enough food. 

So, they use their 18 to 20 inch long tongues, and the roof of their mouths, to wrap around the food, and pluck tasty morsels from branches, in order to feed on a range of different plants and shoots.

Many of these plants and shoots have fierce defensive thorns, requiring the giraffe to use their dextrous tongues to sort out the nutritious leaves from the thorns. Fortunately, a giraffe’s tongue has thickened papillae, which helps to protect it from these vicious thorns. 

Additionally, thick saliva is also believed to help to protect the giraffe’s tongue and mouth against the defensive mechanisms of their favourite food.

The colour of the tongue is best described as black, blue, or purple, with a pink base. 

It is generally assumed that the front part of the tongue has such dark colouration to protect it during frequent sun exposure while eating, and prevent the tongue from getting sunburned!