8 Animals With Blue Tongues

From giraffes to lizards, here are some animals that evolved to have blue tongues.

The long blue tongue of a Southern giraffe
Marcel Brekelmans / Getty Images

Ever suck on a blue raspberry lollipop and end up with a blue-dyed tongue? Imagine having that permanently. 

While it's mostly unknown why certain animals evolved to have blue tongues, one theory for animals such as blue-tongued skinks is that it scares off predators. Here are eight amazing animals that might stick their blue tongues out at you.

Chow-Chow Dog

Chow-chow Portrait
Thais Almeida / Getty Images

The Chow-Chow dog—a sturdy, squarely built dog from China—has a fluffy coat resembling a lion's mane and a dark, black-blue tongue. These dogs are described as "dignified, serious-minded, and aloof," although that aloofness is limited to strangers; their family members receive eternal loyalty. Chow chows are known to be fastidiously clean, much like a cat. They give off little doggy odor and are easy to house-train.

Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard

Eastern Blue Tongued Lizard

Egasit_Mullakhut / Getty Images

The Eastern blue-tongued lizard or skink is said to use its tongue to keep predators away. The rest of its body is typically neutral in color, ranging from grey and brown to cream-colored.

Despite the alarming blue tongue, these lizards are not aggressive. When provoked, they may puff up their bodies, hiss, and even rid themselves of their tails in addition to showing their tongues.


Giraffe sticking tongue out
conoqm / Getty Images

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, many assume giraffes have blue tongues in order to protect from the sun's rays since they don’t get much shade up there above the trees. Scientists speculate that giraffes' tongues, which can reach an impressive length of 20 inches (50 centimeters), contain dense melanin pigments that create the dark color and offer natural sunscreen.

Pygmy Blue Tongue Lizard

pygmy blue tail skink

Atlas of Australia

At a mere six inches in length (15 centimeters), the pygmy blue tongue lizard is the smallest member of the blue tongue lizard family (that includes the larger one listed above). These lizards live in holes that they've taken over from trapdoor spiders in the Adelaide Plains of southern Australia.

To be completely anatomically correct, these pygmy lizards do not have blue tongues, but rather the skin on the inside of their mouths is blue. They are known as blue-tongues, however, because they share "important characteristics with the larger blue-tongue species, such as enlarged jaw muscles and crushing back teeth, a short tail and legs, and an elongated body."

Polar Bears

Polar Bear
MB Photography / Getty Images

A polar bear's tongue is, in a way, an extension of its skin, which is black and helps to absorb heat from the sun. (The fur is translucent, which appears white because of how it reflects the light.) There's some debate as to whether the tongue is black or blue, but it is dark-colored. Babies are born with pink tongues that darken as they age.


Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) with tongue extended
Ian_Redding / Getty Images

The okapi is closely related to the giraffe, although it lives exclusively in the dense and shady tropical Ituri rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has a long, dark-colored tongue that's prehensile, allowing it to grip and strip leaves and vines from branches for eating. The tongue, which measures up to 14 inches (36 centimeters) in length, can be used to clean the okapi's eyelids and ears and deter annoying insects. The blue color comes from melanin, a pigment that provides UV protection.

Bob-Tailed Blue Tongue Lizard

Tiliqua rugosa

Wikimedia Commons

This lizard, also known as Tiliqua rugosa, is a species of blue-tailed skink endemic to Australia. Its tail looks a bit like its triangular head, which is meant to confuse predators. Inside a pink mouth is a bright blue tongue, which appears brighter under UV light and can be extended rapidly to distract and deter birds.


impala running

David Fettes / Getty Images

Impalas are deer-like African animals with dark blue tongues that help them to eat vegetation, such as bark, leaves, stems, and wood. They live in herds in woodlands, low grasslands, and savannas.

View Article Sources
  1. "Chow Chow." American Kennel Club.

  2. "The pygmy bluetongue." South Australian Museum.

  3. "Why bluetongue lizards' tongue are blue." Science in Public.