Do Chickens Have Tongues? [What Does it Look Like?]

Do chickens have tongues? That’s a good question. After all, chickens spend a lot of their time with their beak to the ground eating their food. For this reason, many people are unsure if chickens have a tongue or not. Well, to answer the question I did some research. In this post, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about chickens and their tongues. Let’s go!

If you want a quick answer to this question, then here you go: Chickens do indeed have tongues and it’s an important part of their anatomy, without it they wouldn’t be able to survive. Their tongue is very small and pointy. It is used to eat their food. However, they have only a very small amount of taste buds on their tongue – only around 350 compared to around 10,000 in humans.

What does a chicken tongue look like?

Now that you know that chickens do have tongues you might be wondering what it looks like. The appearance of their tongue is quite strange compared to that of most other animals. It’s very tiny and quite pointy. The appearance is kind of hard to describe because it doesn’t look similar in the slightest to any other animal’s tongue.

A picture says more than a thousand words so the best way for you to get an idea is to take a look at these pictures:

a picture of a chicken tongue
The tongue is so small that it’s barely visible!

 

picture of chicken's tongue number 2
Here you can see it a little bit more clearly – as you can see it’s quite small and pointy

You can’t see it on the pictures, but their tongues are covered in small barbs (similar to cats). Usually, the tongue is the same color as their beak.

Do chickens taste their food with their tongue?

So, now we know that chickens do have tongues, but do they use them to taste their food as we do? Science believed for quite a long time that chickens could not taste anything, but this is untrue. New research has proven that their sense of taste is much more developed than initially assumed.

Chickens do have a tongue, and there are taste buds present on their tongue, but not that many. In contrast to humans, chickens only have around 350 taste buds located on their tongue whereas humans have around 10,000. However, this does not mean that chickens can not taste food properly. Instead of having many taste buds on their tongue, they have a lot of taste buds in their oral cavity which allows them to taste the food they eat.

Since they have most of their taste buds not on their tongue but rather in their oral cavity their tongue has a much different function than ours. It’s mainly used for food processing rather than tasting.

You also have to keep in mind that the mouth of a chicken is much smaller, which means that it’s very normal for them to have much fewer taste buds than we do.

What do chickens use their tongue for?

The tongue of the chicken has 3 important functions: eating, swallowing, and, making sounds. Let’s go over them one by one.

Eating

One of the most important functions of their tongue is that it allows them to swallow their food. They use it to push the food back into their throat so that they can properly swallow it. After that, it arrives in the aforementioned gizzard where it is ground up into small pieces before it enters the stomach. This makes it easier for them to digest it and extract the nutrients from the food.

The tongue is an important part of their eating process – without it, they wouldn’t be able to move the food they peck up down their throat and therefore wouldn’t be able to eat.

Since their tongue is so small, they cannot use it to lick up foods. This also means that they can not lick foods to give it a taste test in ways that other animals can.

How chickens drink

I’m sure you’ve seen dogs using their tongue to lap up water. Chickens do not do this because their tongue is way too small for that. They also do not suck up water because they lack the ability to do so.

You might be wondering then, how do chickens drink? They do not use their tongue at all to drink. Instead, they drink by quickly opening and closing their mouth, thereby trapping the water in their beak. They then tilt their head back and swallow the water.

This way of drinking is quite common among birds (even though most birds, unlike chickens, can lap up water), but quite rare in the animal kingdom. It’s an unusual way to drink, but it seems to work out just fine for chickens!

Talking

Some birds, like parrots, can talk, but chickens are unfortunately not one of those. However, what they can do is make sounds and they do use their tongue to vocalize these sounds.

Do chickens have teeth?

Chickens are descendants of reptiles (more specifically, the Archosaurs) and for that reason, you might expect them to have teeth. After all, reptiles are often associated with having strong, powerful teeth. However, chickens do not have teeth. Chickens, just like all other birds, have evolved to have a gene that deactivates the growth of teeth. The reason for this is that they do not need teeth to chew their food.

What chickens do have instead of teeth is a gizzard, which is an organ found in the digestive tract of the chicken. They use the gizzard in their digestive tract in combination with the grit you include in their food to grind up what they eat before it enters their stomach. By grinding the food up this way they make it easier for their stomach to extract the nutrients from it.

Conclusion

To sum it up: chickens do have tongues and they use them to eat. Also, it was long assumed that chickens can not taste the food they eat, but they actually can. They have a small number of taste buds located on their tongue, but the majority are located in their oral cavity.

I hope this article answered everything you needed to know! If you think I’ve missed something or have additional questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

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