A giraffe's tongue appears to be black, purple or blue on the tip, and it is pink toward the throat and on the underside. The prehensile tongue is perfectly adapted to its favorite food, the leaves of the acacia tree. The dark coloration may protect the tongue from sunburn.
Africa's acacia species has vicious thorns for protection, but the giraffe's 18- to 20-inch tongue deftly separates the thorns from the leaves. Small, thick, fleshy bumps on a giraffe's tongue and substantial saliva also offer protection from the thorns. Giraffes have four stomachs that digest their food, and when they are not eating, they regurgitate a ball of leaves called cud for further crunching.