Why do giraffes have blue tongues?
The long neck of the giraffe
Giraffes have long necks, it's no secret. It can measure up to 6 meters high, and that's not nothing! But then, why do they have such a long neck?
Giraffes have a long neck because it allows them to eat leaves from the tops of trees. Her favorite tree is the acacia because the most tender leaves are between two and six meters, that's when she grabs the leaves with her tongue and eats them.
What about the giraffe's tongue?
His neck is not the only one to be long, his tongue too! It can measure up to 50 centimeters! The length of its tongue is not its only specificity... Indeed, the giraffe's tongue is blue and we have all already wondered: Why?
The tongue is an organ made up of many blood vessels, which is why in the majority of animals it is pink in color. In general, having a blue tongue indicates health problems, however, there are several animals with a blue tongue: the chow-chow, the giraffe, the impala, the okapi or the polar bear. In these species, it is in no way a health problem! This color comes from melanin which is made up of cells with dark pigment and it turns out that melanin protects against the sun. For some giraffes, the color may vary, it is blacker or more purple, however it is the bluish color that has been retained. Thus, if the top of the giraffe's tongue is of this color, it is for be protected from the sun when eating. Indeed, the giraffe is an ungulate mammal that ruminates and it lives in the African savannahs where the temperatures are very hot and the climate very sunny. This color would then be the result of natural selection which would allow it to be in harmony with its environment.
In addition to this, the giraffe's saliva has antiseptic properties that help protect its tongue from the thorns present on certain leaves.
And with this 50 centimeter tongue, what does it eat? Since it only sleeps two hours a day, the giraffe passes the time by looking for food and eating. She can eat between 7 and 70 kg per day! As said before, she loves to feed on acacia leaves which is her favorite food, but she can feed on many other things. It also eats legumes, flowers, fruits or seeds.