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7 Animals With Blue or Black Tongues! (With Pictures)

In the rich diversity of the animal kingdom, certain traits capture our imagination for their unusual and striking nature. One such feature is the presence of blue or black tongues in a select group of animals.

This unique characteristic, although rare, can be found across a diverse range of species, from the towering giraffes of the African savannas to the domesticated Chow Chow dogs in our homes.

In this article, we explore the fascinating world of animals with blue or black tongues. We delve into the lives of various species that boast this distinctive feature, uncovering the reasons behind their unusual tongue colors and the roles these animals play in their respective ecosystems.

Join us as we journey through this intriguing aspect of natural diversity, shedding light on the mysteries behind the blue and black tongues of the animal world.

List of Animals With Blue Tongues or Black Tongues

Western Blue-Tongued Skink

Western Blue-Tongued SkinkSource: Wikimedia Commons
  • Type of Animal: Reptile
  • Scientific Name: Tiliqua occipitalis
  • Where Found: Australia
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Western Blue-Tongued Skink is a reptile native to Australia, known for its characteristic blue tongue, which stands out against its sandy-brown and dark-striped body. These skinks use their vibrant tongues as a defense mechanism, flashing them to startle predators. They are ground-dwelling lizards, primarily found in woodlands and grasslands.

These skinks are omnivores, feeding on a diet of plants, insects, and other small animals. They are solitary creatures and are known for their slow-moving nature. In captivity, they are often kept as pets due to their docile demeanor and ease of care.

Did you know? When threatened, the Western Blue-Tongued Skink will hiss and puff up its body, making itself look bigger to deter predators.

Chow-Chow Dog

Chow-Chow Dog showing tongue
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Where Found: Worldwide (domesticated)
  • Conservation Status: Not Applicable (domesticated species)

The Chow-Chow is a distinctive breed of dog known for its lion-like mane and unique black tongue. Originating from China, these dogs have a dignified and aloof demeanor but can be fiercely loyal to their families. Their thick double coat requires regular grooming and can come in various colors.

Chow-Chows are known to be independent and sometimes stubborn, making early training and socialization important. They were originally bred as working dogs for hunting, herding, and pulling, but now they are mostly kept as companions.

Did you know? The Chow-Chow is one of the few dog breeds with a completely black tongue, a feature they share with the Shar-Pei.

Giraffe

Giraffe showing tongue
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis
  • Where Found: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth, known for their long necks and distinctive spotted coats. They are native to the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. A giraffe’s tongue is dark bluish-purple, which is thought to help protect it from sunburn as it reaches for leaves in the treetops.

Giraffes are herbivores, feeding mainly on the twigs of trees, predominantly acacia trees. They have a unique walking gait, moving both right legs forward, then both left. Despite their height, giraffes can run at speeds of up to 35 mph over short distances.

Did you know? A giraffe’s tongue can be up to 20 inches long, which helps it to pluck tasty leaves from branches.

Bobtail Lizard

Bobtail Lizard showing tongue
  • Type of Animal: Reptile
  • Scientific Name: Tiliqua rugosa
  • Where Found: Australia
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Bobtail Lizard, also known as the Shingleback, is a type of blue-tongued skink native to Australia. It has a distinctive stout body, a short, stubby tail, and a rough-scaled, armored appearance. Its blue tongue is used as a defense mechanism to ward off predators.

Bobtail lizards are omnivores, feeding on a variety of vegetation, insects, and other small animals. They are often seen basking in the sun during the day. These lizards are known for their long-term monogamous relationships, a rare trait among lizards.

Did you know? The Bobtail Lizard’s tail resembles its head, which is thought to confuse predators and give it a chance to escape.

Okapi

Okapi tongue
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Scientific Name: Okapia johnstoni
  • Where Found: Central Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Conservation Status: Endangered

The Okapi, often called the “forest giraffe,” is a unique mammal found in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is known for its striking stripes, which resemble those of a zebra, and a long, blue-black tongue. Okapis are shy and solitary, and their coloration helps them blend into the forest shadows.

Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi. They have a similar body structure to giraffes but are smaller in size. The okapi is an important species for the biodiversity of the Congo’s rainforests but faces threats from habitat loss and poaching.

Did you know? Despite its zebra-like stripes, the okapi is actually the only living relative of the giraffe.

Impala

Impala close up
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Scientific Name: Aepyceros melampus
  • Where Found: Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. Known for their elegant shape and powerful leaps, impalas have a glossy, reddish-brown coat and, notably, a black tongue. They are adaptable animals, inhabiting savannas and light woodlands where they graze on grasses and browse on leaves and shoots.

Impalas live in herds, and their social structure changes seasonally. They are known for their incredible agility, capable of leaping up to 10 feet high and covering distances of up to 33 feet in a single bound. Impalas play a key role in their ecosystems as prey for predators like lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

Did you know? During the mating season, male impalas produce a unique loud, roaring sound to attract females and ward off rivals.

Polar Bear

Polar bear tongue
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus
  • Where Found: Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas and landmasses
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Polar Bears are the largest carnivores on land, known for their thick white fur and black tongue. They are native to the Arctic Circle, where they rely heavily on sea ice for hunting seals, their primary food source. Polar bears are excellent swimmers and can travel long distances in search of food.

The conservation of polar bears is a significant concern due to climate change, which is reducing their sea ice habitat. They have a keen sense of smell and are solitary animals, except for mothers with cubs. Polar bears play a crucial role in the Arctic ecosystem and are an indicator species for environmental health in this region.

Did you know? Polar bears have black skin under their white fur, which helps them absorb sunlight and stay warm in the cold Arctic environment.

Why Do Some Animals Have Blue or Black Tongues?

The phenomenon of blue or black tongues in certain animals is a fascinating aspect of natural adaptation, often serving specific functions or indicating unique physiological traits. While not common across the animal kingdom, where most species have pink tongues, the presence of a blue or black tongue can be attributed to various reasons, ranging from protection against the sun to social communication.

Sun Protection: In some animals, like the giraffe and certain lizard species, the dark pigmentation of the tongue is believed to serve as protection against sunburn. These animals, especially giraffes, frequently use their tongues to strip leaves from trees, exposing their tongues to the sun for extended periods. The melanin in their tongues, which gives them the dark color, helps protect against UV radiation.

Thermoregulation: For some species, the color of their tongue plays a role in thermoregulation. The dark color might aid in absorbing heat or, conversely, help release heat. This is particularly pertinent in species that are exposed to high levels of sunlight or where regulating body temperature is crucial for survival.

Giraffe tongue close up

Camouflage and Defense: In reptiles like blue-tongued skinks, the bright blue tongue contrasts with their otherwise dull body color, acting as a surprise mechanism to ward off predators. When threatened, these skinks open their mouth wide, displaying their brightly colored tongue as a bluff to startle potential threats.

Social Communication: In some species, the color of the tongue can be a form of communication. For example, dogs show their tongues during panting, and a darker tongue might have evolved as a means of visual communication among individuals, although this theory is less explored.

Genetic Factors and Diet: The blue or black coloration can also be a result of genetic factors, as seen in certain dog breeds like the Chow-Chow. In these cases, the tongue color is simply a unique breed characteristic. Additionally, for some species, diet can influence tongue color, with certain foods leading to staining or pigmentation changes.

In conclusion, the blue or black tongues in various animals are a product of evolutionary adaptations, each serving a purpose suited to the animal’s environment, behavior, or social interactions. These unique features highlight the incredible diversity of evolutionary strategies in the animal kingdom.

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