Why do giraffes have purple tongues?

Just when you thought this lanky creature couldn't get any odder...

2nd August 2018
Why do giraffes have purple tongues? © Getty

Asked by: Emma-Louise Halliday, Bedford

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be licked by a giraffe, you’ll notice that their 50cm-long tongues can appear purple, bluish or almost black in colour. This is due to the density of dark ‘melanin’ colour pigments in them.

There’s still no definitive explanation for this, but the leading theory is that the melanin provides extra UV protection, preventing their delicate tongues from getting sunburnt as they feed up high.

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