Extraordinary Tongues and the Animals That Use Them

A giraffe’s tongue is blue to protect it from sunburn and the chameleon moves its tongue faster that the human eye can follow it. Here are some of the most interesting tongues around.

Giraffes spend many hours each day feeding and their long sticky, flexible tongues are exposed to the blistering African sun. Nature has given them a blue colouring to protect them from sunburn.

The tongue of a chameleon is nearly twice the length of its body. Its tongue extends and retracts faster than the human eye can follow, at a speed of about 26 body lengths per second.

Snakes smell with their tongues. They flick their tongues in and out to smell what is in the air around. This is a very accurate way of sensing prey and danger.

A lion’s tongue is much rougher than a domestic cat’s. It is like very rough sandpaper and used for grooming.

A bee’s tongue is called a proboscis. This is extra long and used for sucking nectar from flowers. Different bees have different lengths of proboscis depending on where they feed. So what a bee really does inside a flower is suck up the nectar while collecting pollen on its legs.

The tube-lipped nectar bat from Ecquador has a tongue one and a half times its own body length. It shoots it out with amazing accuracy while feeding at night. This huge tongue (in proportion to the 5.5cm bat) is not stored in the mouth. It is attached to the back of the mouth but stored inside the rib cage. The bat in the picture is drinking a sweet drink left outside to attract it.


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15 Responses to “Extraordinary Tongues and the Animals That Use Them”
  1. Darlene McFarlane Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Very interesting article, Louie. I never knew there was such a thing as a tube-lipped nectar bat and found it fascinating.

    The tongue is something I never thought much about except for my dad’s aunt’s tongue when I was a small child. I would try to sneak a peek when she was around but always without luck. I heard dad say once that it was loose at both ends.

  2. louie jerome Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Thanks Darlene. I love that giraffe tongue.

  3. valli Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Very interesting.

  4. Unofre Pili Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Nice article and wonderful pictures.

  5. IcyCucky Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Wow..this is fascinating!

  6. informed Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    a lion’s tongue is not just that rough “for grooming”. it is that rough to help remove the skin from prey.

  7. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    That is very interesting information. Well done.

  8. louie jerome Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    #6 Yes, you are right. I should have added that as well. Thanks.

  9. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On July 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Fascinating facts and awesome pictures too.

  10. MindIt Says...

    On July 4, 2008 at 3:07 am

    I used to think only human being has an interesting tongue!

  11. Anne Lyken-Garner Says...

    On July 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

    What scary tongues. I recently saw(on Digg) a picture of a girl with an extraordinarily long tongue.

  12. alexa gates Says...

    On July 5, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    how interesting! I never thought tounges could be this interesting!

  13. desmonrock21 Says...

    On July 6, 2008 at 9:40 am

    hehehe… nice article! Bleh..!

  14. Lucy Lockett Says...

    On July 8, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    That was interesting!

  15. Cowman Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 2:19 am

    pff there should be a cow here
    those beasts have kick ass tongues

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