Do Alligators Have Tongues?

Do Alligators Have Tongues

If you’ve ever wondered if alligators have a tongue in their mouth, you’re in the right place. So, let’s first answer this question and then we’ll move onto some other curious animals.

Do alligators have tongues? Alligators do have tongues and they can be enormous as they run nearly the whole length of their snout, which in adult alligators can be up to two feet (60 cm) long. The tongue is made of muscles and fat.

Alligator tongue also has an important component to it that stops the water from coming into their stomach and lungs. It’s a piece of flesh called a palatal valve that seals off their throat to stop the water from rushing in and enabling them to fully open the mouth even underwater.

RELATED: Can Alligators Live In Saltwater?

Do crocodiles have tongues?

Crocodiles, same as their cousins alligators, do have tongues but it’s embeded on the bottom of their mouth so that it seems that it doesn’t exist. There’s also a membrane that limits the tongues movement so the crocodile can’t stick it out.

Crocs will mainly use their tongues for things other than chewing food. Things like regulating body heat and salt content as well as keeping water out of their airways when they’re underwater.

RELATED: Do Crocodiles & Alligators Die of Old Age? (Are they Immortal)

Do sharks have tongues?

Yes, even sharks have a tongue. It’s actually a piece of cartilage that’s called basihyal. It can be found on the floor of shark’s mouth and other fish have it as well (although not all). Some fish that have tongues might actually lose it due to parasites!

In all but one shark species, tongues seem to be useless. Only the cookiecutter shark, also called the cigar shark, uses its tongue to rip flesh out of its prey.

RELATED: Are Sharks Reptiles Or Fish??

What animal has the longest tongue?

Giraffes have an impressive 21-inch-long (53 cm) tongue but there is another animal that has an even longer tongue. The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) has a tongue that’s 2-foot-long (60 cm)! The anteater uses it to scoop up up to 30,000 ants and termites a day.

Their spaghetti-like tongue, which is attached to the anteater’s sternum, is covered with tiny and backward-pointing spines with sticky saliva to help it grab the ants.

And the surprises don’t end here because their tongue is lightning fast! It’s darting in and out of the mouth up to 150 times a minute.

How long is a chameleon’s tongue?

Amazingly, chameleons have tongues that are twice as long as their whole body. Their 20-inch-long (50 cm) tongues would be about 10 to 12 feet (about 3 to 4 meters) long if we compared them to human tongues!

Their tongue is also super fast. It can go from 0-60 in 1/100th of a second which enables it to catch fast insects like locusts, mantids and grasshoppers. The tip of the tongue is like a ball of muscles that transforms into a suction cup upon hitting the prey.

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Which animals don’t have tongues?

Many animals naturally don’t have tongues, while others might lose them to parasites. Insects, crustaceans, and echinoderms don’t have tongues. Butterflies and flies, for instance, taste with their feet.

Then there’s Pipidae – a family of primitive, tongueless frogs. They are also toothless and are lacking true ears. They use their hands to shove food towards their mouths while using a hyobranchial pumping mechanism to draw or suck food further inside the mouth.

Interestingly, African clawed frogs, members of the Pipidae family, are illegal to own, transport or sell without a permit in a dozen of US states because they are voracious predators and easily adapt to many habitats making them highly invasive.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.