Giraffe Tongue Color Facts And Its Significance

Christian Mba
Oct 25, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Portrait of a Giraffe eating leaf.

Giraffes have a special place in many people's hearts due to their tall and unusual looks.

Giraffes have a special adaptation that allows them to access foliage that is inaccessible to other herbivores. When giraffes' heads are raised, dropped, or swung swiftly, their blood vessels are very elastic, and their valves are uniquely suited to help offset an abrupt buildup of blood (to prevent fainting).

The giraffe is always a joy to see in person, with its long necks, interesting markings, and graceful movements. However, there's more to this fascinating creature than meets the eye. For example, did you know that a giraffe's hair-covered horns are known as ossicones?

Giraffes, it turns out, are one of the only species with these hairy horns from birth. Giraffes have a tongue that varies in color depending on the light. They can have a black, gray, or purple tongue.

Giraffes have purple tongues. How long is a giraffe's tongue though? If you examine a projecting giraffe tongue attentively, you will see that only the last 7.9 in (20 cm) or so is this dark color, while the remainder is a more typical pinkish color.

The black color of a giraffe's tongue is due to a high concentration of melanin pigments, and while there is no scientific reason for this unusual tongue coloration, many people assume that the melanin pigment gives it additional UV protection to prevent sunburn.

Given that giraffes can feed for 12 hours a day with their tongues sticking out and exposed to the light, this argument seems reasonable.

If you like our fascinating facts on giraffe tongue color then why not take a look at otter civet and African mongoose facts.

Why are giraffes so tall?

Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animals, owing to their long necks, which are their most prominent trait. Giraffes can reach 19.7 ft (6 m) in height.

They do, however, only have seven cervical vertebrae, much like humans and most other mammals. A giraffe's vertebrae are substantially larger than those of a typical animal.

There are several theories as to why giraffes developed their long cervices. Because they were taller, they could consume leaves from trees that other herbivores could not reach.

Alternatively, large necks could have developed as a result of males striking each other with their necks in order to win over a female; longer, stronger necks would have won over a female.

The giraffe's long neck indicates that it has adapted to the obstacles that come with its environment. Giraffe hearts must be incredibly powerful, with blood pressure three times that of a human's, in order to pump blood to their brains.

When a giraffe lowers its neck, unique valves in the neck arteries ensure that a giraffe does not suffer a brain injury as a result of the sudden increase in blood pressure.

What do giraffes eat?

The giraffe, the world's tallest land animal, is a herbivore that must chew continually to receive the nutrition it requires.

In the wild, a giraffe's diet consists almost entirely of leaves, which the animal consumes at a rate of up to 75 lb (34 kg) per day.

Giraffes are fed leaves, some fruits, hay, and vegetables in captivity, as well as specifically developed giraffe food, which is often in the shape of pellets. A giraffe, which may grow to be 19 ft (5.7 m) tall, has little competition for food since it can easily graze from the trees that other animals cannot reach.

Males use their tongues to eat from the higher branches of a tree, leaving the lower ones for females because they are shorter.

Giraffes like the leaves of the acacia tree in the wild as much as in captivity. Giraffes have a good defense against their thorny food, with their thick, viscous saliva portecting them from swallowing any thorns.

While they eat acacia leaves from a tree on a regular basis, they also eat the blossoms of the tree when they are in season.

There is more tannin in the blossoms, but there is also twice as much protein.

Female giraffes choose more herbs than males in the Serengeti, with the female giraffe diet being richer in nutrients and the male giraffe diet being higher in fiber and lignin. This distinction may explain why females produce young even when food is scarce during the dry season.

How are giraffes able to break down thorns?

Giraffe tongues are quite lengthy and capable of grasping plants.

To protect themselves against sharp thorns and plants, they have thickened papillae and more saliva on their prehensile tongues. The color of a giraffe tongue is bluish dark, providing an extra layer of protection for this vital appendage.

A giraffe's tongue and mouth have been specially designed to allow it to consume thorny branches without being pricked. To protect their mouth and digestive tract, they have thick, sticky saliva that coats any thorns swallowed.

How does a giraffe's tongue help it survive?

The long tongue of the giraffe enables it to reach the topmost, delicious leaves while avoiding painful thorns. Because acacia leaves have a high moisture content, giraffes can consume up to 75 lb (34 kg) of acacia leaves per day and get enough water to thrive.

With a pink base or back, the tongue is best described as black, blue, or purple. The dark coloring of the front section of the tongue is thought to protect it from sunburn during repeated exposure to sun rays when eating.

Giraffes wrap their long tongues around leaves that grow at the tops of acacia trees, providing sunscreen. This saves them from being sunburned while these animals use their prehensile tongues and mouths when eating. Not to mention, they have long hours of eating sessions.

Their prehensile ability and long tongue enable giraffes to spend a long time focusing on food. It's practically a blessing.

Their 19.7 in (50 cm) long tongues can be purple, bluish, or virtually black in color. This is owing to the high concentration of darker melanin pigments in their tongues.

Although there is no conclusive explanation, the main belief is that the dark melanin on their tongues provides additional UV protection, preventing their delicate tongues from becoming sunburned as they feed up high.

The color of a giraffe's prehensile tongue can be black, gray, or purple, depending on the light. To pump blood to their brains, giraffes' hearts must be very powerful, with blood pressure three times that of a human's.

When a giraffe lowers its neck, the giraffe's brain is protected by special valves in its neck arteries. A giraffe can reach a height of 19 ft (5.7 m).

Giraffes have another built-in defense against their thorny prey; their thick, viscous saliva prevents them from eating thorns. The saliva also has the ability to heal.

Giraffes may eat 75 lb (34 kg) of acacia leaves in a single day. A giraffe's large prehensile tongue allows it to reach the uppermost, tasty leaves while avoiding the thorns that are harmful. Giraffes protect themselves from sunburn by wrapping their tongues around leaves that grow at the tops of trees.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Giraffe tongue color', then why not take a look at 'Elds deer', or 'Lesula monkey'?

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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