What Animal Has The Longest Tongue?


A giraffe’s tongue is a whopping 18 to 20 inches long to access hard-to-reach leaves. It’s also blue-black in color, which may keep the tongue from getting sunburned. Talk about a cool adaptation.



The giraffe is the okapi’s closest relative, so naturally, the okapi shares its relative’s leaf-reaching prowess. In fact, the okapi often uses its tongue to clean its eyes and nose.



A hummingbird’s long, slender bill is adapted to collect nectar from flowers. The bill protects the long, split tongue and allows each hummingbird species to feed on specific types of flowers. The tongue actually has long tubes inside that help the hummingbird get its fill of nectar.

Hummingbird, Maquipucuna Cloudforest Reserve, Ecuado

Sun Bear

The sun bear’s especially long tongue is perfectly suited for getting at honey and insects inside trees and other tight places. Its appetite for coconuts, oil palms, and other commercial crops has led to a lot of conflict between sun bears and humans.

Sadly, this conflict is a significant conservation threat to the sun bear, as the little bears are often killed or confiscated for the pet trade.


Chameleons don’t move around very fast, so they use their incredibly long tongue to catch the insects they eat. They are able to stick their tongues out of their mouths very quickly.


The tongue’s tip is a ball of muscle, and as it strikes its prey, it quickly forms a small suction cup to draw insects back into the mouth, where its strong jaws will crush them. In some species, the tongue is longer than the body!


Giant anteaters have no teeth, but a specialized tongue allows them to eat up to 30,000 ants and termites each day. These animals are perfectly designed to feed on these little critters, which is great, because ants are a very reliable food source.

Young Giant Anteater (3 months old) - Myrmecophaga tridactyla

The anteater’s narrow tongue is about 2 feet (60 centimeters) long and is shaped like a strand of spaghetti. This amazing tongue has teeny, backward-pointing spines covered in sticky saliva that aid in feeding.


Termites and ants are the main menu items for the pangolin. It sniffs out an ant or termite nest, either in a tree or on the ground. Then, the pangolin uses its strong front legs and sharp front claws to rip it open.

Ground Pangolin at Night

Its long, sticky tongue can then lick up the insects. The pangolin can close its ears and nostrils, and its thick eyelids protect the eyes from the angry ants.


A specialized mouth and tongue let tamanduas eat up to 9,000 ants in a single day! Tamanduas don’t have teeth to chew their food; instead, their stomach grinds the food after it is swallowed.

Tamandua, Tamandua tetradactyla, 3 years old, walking against white background

A 16-inch-long sticky tongue with small barbs on it is just right for stealing ants and termites from their homes. The tamandua’s mouth is only as round as a pencil, but it can also lick up honey and soft, juicy fruits.


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