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Do Chickens Have Tongues? Can They Taste Food?

Rooster with mouth open tongue sticking out

Like all birds, a chickenʻs beak is one of the most recognizable parts of their body. But have you ever wondered whatʻs inside the beak? For instance, do chickens have tongues? Yes, chickens do have tongues and they play a role in the eating and digesting of their food.

In this article, weʻll tell you all about the chickenʻs tongue and what itʻs used for. We’ll also answer another pressing question: can chickens taste their food?

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Chicken Tongues: The Basics

A chickenʻs tongue is shaped like a triangle, pointed at the tip and widening further back into the mouth. Their tongues are just the right size to fit into their lower beaks, one reason why itʻs not easy to tell that chickens have them. Like our tongues attach to the bottom of our mouth, a chickenʻs tongue is attached to the inside of their lower beaks.

The tip of the chickenʻs tongue is hard and sharp. They have a ridge of bumps, called the papillary crest cutting across the middle of their tongues. Like humans, chickens produce saliva and their tongues contain numerous openings from the salivary glands.

Rooster crowing in the farm
Image Credit: LoggaWiggler, Pixabay

What Do Chickens Use Their Tongues For?

The main purpose of the chickenʻs tongue is to function as part of the birdʻs digestive system. Chickens donʻt have teeth so instead, they rely on saliva to soften their food. Then, the chicken will use their tongue, specifically the papillary crest, to push the food towards the back of their mouth to be swallowed.

Unlike many animals, chickens donʻt use their tongues to help them drink as much. Typically, chickens drink by scooping water into their beak and tipping their heads back to direct the liquid down their throats.

The chickenʻs tongue may play a role in helping them create sounds like crowing and clucking but itʻs not known how important they are in this function. Birds, including chickens, primarily make sounds by moving air over a structure called the syrinx. Chickens can make about 20-30 different noises as they communicate among themselves.

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Can Chickens Taste Food?

chicken eating feed
Image Credit: LesiChkalll27, Shutterstock

Previously, it was thought that chickens didnʻt have taste buds and were unable to taste their food. However, several studies have now proved that this is not the case.

On average, chickens have about 240-360 taste buds. Unlike humans and most mammals, chickens only have a few taste buds on their tongues. Most of them are scattered throughout their mouth and throat. The number of taste buds varies by breed and sex of the chicken. The more taste buds the chicken has, the more sensitive their sense of taste will be.

Further research suggests that chickens can reliably detect four of the five basic tastes: bitter, salt, umami, and sour. They are most sensitive to bitter-tasting foods and can tolerate sour-tasting foods better. Salty or sweet tastes must be present in high quantities before chickens react to them.

These findings explain a lot when it comes to understanding which human foods chickens enjoy versus ones they will avoid.

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Conclusion

The chickenʻs mouth structure doesnʻt look a whole lot like ours, but we do have some features in common, including tongues. Chickensʻ tongues play an essential role in their digestive system, moving food through their mouth and into their esophagus. Keeping chickens well-fed is vital for maintaining their health and egg-producing abilities.

Looking for more information on chickens? Try:


Featured Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

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