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.