A typical giraffe tongue is 18 to 20 inches long. The tongue is prehensile and is used in combination with the roof of the giraffe's mouth to eat a variety of plants and shoots, typically from the Acacia species.
The giraffe tongue is highly dexterous, which allows it to move around the defensive thorns that grow from African Acacia plants to reach the leaves. The tongue can be black, purple or blue with a pink back and base. The dark coloration of the tongue's front surface is thought to protect it from extended sun exposure during feeding to prevent sunburn.