Giraffe Tongue Color (+ Why They Have These Colors)

If you picture a giraffe, you would think of a long neck, a unique skin pattern, tall height, and many more. But there is still one exciting part of a giraffe: the color of their tongue. Let us learn more about it. 

Many people are already fascinated with just the physical appearance of a giraffe. One can be already captivated enough with just a glance at how a giraffe looks. 

The giraffe is majestic with its long necks accompanied by its incredible height. But the other amazing thing is the color of the giraffe’s tongue! People love giraffes. When you walk inside a zoo, you can’t help but be amazed at their physical look. 

If someone asked you to recall an animal with incredible height, the giraffe would be the number on your list. But giraffes are more than just their height and skin pattern or long necks; they also have their great tongue. So this article will talk all about the giraffe’s tongue. 

If you are as curious as the other people, keep reading and have your thirst satisfied with the subject of a giraffe’s tongue. Enjoy!

What Color Is a Giraffe’s Tongue?

One unique thing you can find out about a giraffe is the color of its tongue. When you go near a giraffe and stick its tongue out, you might notice a fascinating color. The giraffe’s tongue is not the same color as the tongue of humans or any other animals. 

The color of a giraffe’s tongue is dark. The specific color can be purple, blue, or black. It is somewhat nearer to the dark violet shade. 

The base of a giraffe’s tongue is a little bit on the pink side. The rumor is that the color of the giraffe’s tongue is intentionally on the dark side of the pigment because it is nature’s way of protecting the giraffe’s tongue from the ultraviolet rays. This is only just a rumor, though, because it was still not proven in a scientific method.

You know that giraffes eat on trees and leaves. Maybe that is also why nature gave the giraffes long necks because they have to reach the trees. After all, they eat leaves on trees as their food. 

It is also required that these giraffes have long tongues because they must stick their tongue out and eat the leaves on the top of the trees. When the giraffes eat, they have to stick their tongue out. With that, it is said that the tongue of the giraffe must have protection against the sunlight. 

The way the giraffe eats can also be dangerous. The leaves and branches of the trees can have thorns or other things that can irritate or injure the giraffe’s tongue. Branches can have thorns, but nature made sure that the giraffe is well equipped with these dangers. 

The saliva of the giraffe has an antiseptic property. This means that the saliva of the giraffe can help the tongue of the giraffe to heal. So if the giraffe will hurt their tongue in getting their food, the giraffe can naturally heal their tongue because of the antiseptic property found on their saliva.

Why Do Giraffes Have Purple, Blue, Or Black Tongues?

The giraffe has a dark purple, dark blue, or black tongue because of the work of melanin. The melanin is the one that creates pigmentation on their skin. They are the ones that are responsible for the darkened color of the giraffe’s tongue. 

As the rumor says, the giraffe’s tongue is dark in color because it gives protection to their tongue against the sun’s rays. Their tongue must not be sunburned, and they can get sunburned a lot because they use their tongue to take food from the top of the trees. Giraffes are given long necks so that they can reach the top of the trees. 

The reason why a giraffe’s tongue is purple, black, or blue is still a mystery. We can blame it on the course of nature. Another theory is that a giraffe’s tongue just naturally evolved into a dark color so that its tongue can be protected against the sun. 

The tongue of the giraffe can grow up to twenty inches in length. They wrap their tongues around the leaves on top of the trees. Giraffes also have prehensile tongues. 

The tongue of the giraffe can get easily sunburned. This is because the tongues of the giraffes are mainly used for getting their food. On a scorching sunny day, they would need to eat, and they would always be sticking out and making it vulnerable to the sun. 

The side of the tongue of giraffe is a light pink color. The theory is that the underside of their tongue is not vulnerable to the sun any more than the upper part of their tongue. This is one indication that the color of the giraffe’s tongue is correlated with its exposure to the sun.

giraffe tongue

Do All Giraffes Have Blue, Purple, Or Black Tongues?

Naturally, yes. All giraffes have the same color in terms of their tongue. However, there is always the possibility that a giraffe might have a slightly off-color than the rest of them. 

But if we will speak out of generality, all giraffes have the same color in their tongue. It can be blue, purple, or black.

How Does The Coloring Of A Giraffe’s Tongue Help It Survive?

The tongue of the giraffe contributes mainly to their survival. The first thing is that giraffes use their tongue to get food from the trees. They wrap their tongue over the leaves and pull them out. 

The second thing is that the color of the giraffe’s tongue is known to protect them against the sun’s heat. When giraffes are eating, they stick their tongues out. 

The trees have no shade, and so their tongue gets so exposed to the heat of the sun. As a result, the giraffe’s tongue can be sunburned and irritated from the sun.


In summary, giraffes are known for their long necks, tall height, and interesting skin pattern. But their tongue is interesting too. 

The color of the giraffe’s tongue is dark. It can be purple, blue, or black. It was known that the dark color of their tongue is meant to protect their tongue against the heat of the sun.


Image credits – Canva

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I'm David, and safari has been my passion since I was a little boy - I grew up in South Africa. I love to help spread knowledge about safari, so let me know if you have any questions. Read more