Giraffes’ Tongues are Pretty Long!
Although a giraffe’s tongue is not as long as its neck, giraffes are known for possessing a long tongue. Usually, It measures anywhere between 18 to 20 inches in length. They also come in unique colours like purple, blue, and dark black.
Why Do They Need Long Tongues?
The reason behind having such long tongues is because they feed on the leaves of the acacia tree. Very sharps thorns on these trees protect the acacia leaves. The long tongue makes the giraffe capable of reaching the most delicious leaves at the highest points without coming in contact with the pesky thorns. Moreover, thanks to their tongue’s thick and tough protective layer, they are also saved from getting their mouth cut by these thorns. Even their saliva is supremely thick and loaded with antiseptic properties. It helps in healing the tongue quickly in case of any cuts.
The Unusual Tongue Colours
As per some experts, the dark shades of a giraffe’s tongue serve a great purpose of protecting them from sunburn. How you ask. Giraffes spend over ten hours a day eating tree leaves. So, the dark-coloured tongue is most likely to prevent Sun exposure and damage the harmful UV rays.
They are Obsessed with the Acacia Leaves!
There are many reasons why giraffes run through the risk of getting their tongues cut to feed on acacia leaves. They usually don’t go for any other tree because the tastiest leaves grow higher up in the tree and are way too away from other land animals’ access. Moreover, it is also easily reachable by the giraffe. So, giraffes don’t have to fight for their tasty leaves and have very little competition.
The High Water Content of Acacia
Apart from this, acacia leaves are high in water content. Their moisture content is pretty high, and if a giraffe eats up to 70 pounds of these leaves, it can go for days without having to drink water. Much of their water requirements are fulfilled by the acacia leaves, and if they eat up plenty of these, their water needs would be satisfied for days in the end. (See Why are zoos bad for animals?)
Acacia is Their Saviour
Eating acacia is very important for survival as there is an immense danger for a giraffe if it drinks water from any water body. While drinking from a lake or streak, giraffes have to spread their legs widely and lower their heads completely towards the ground. This is a very vulnerable position, and they can get easily attacked by predators this way. Hence, they usually avoid the water bodies and meet their water needs by chewing on the acacia leaves.