Cockatoo Tongue

Cockatoo Tongue: Anatomy And Functions

Cockatoo tongue can easily be seen as a wonder because most people will wonder how cockatoos have such strong tongues that help them to easily eat and digest different types of foods. Others may wonder if cockatoos have tongues at all.

As you are reading this you may also be wondering why and how cockatoos can mimic and make sounds that are similar to that of humans and why their tongue configuration may not look exactly like that of humans, but they have certain features that make it possible for them to do the things you see cockatoos do with their tongues.

So in this blog article, we will take the time to share with you everything you need to know about the cockatoo tongue anatomy, how it functions, and other important things you will need to know about cockatoo tongues and how it affects their daily life.

Cockatoo Tongue

The tongues of Cockatoos give them the ability to mimic human speech, move food and drink into their gullets, and taste various objects.

Beak movement and function are supported by the tongue’s design and positioning as well. Another five dexterous components are attached to a bone in the tongue which seems to give the tongue a lot of strength to crush hard nuts and enjoy meals.

They can grasp and move items and food because their tongues are muscled and articulated.

The tongue is held in place by a hyoid apparatus consisting of cartilage. Cockatoos can mimic complex sounds thanks to the capacity to flex their tongue muscles.

Although Cockatoo tongues tend to be black although they can also be colored in a variety of ways. With blues and yellows, the Cockatoo’s unique coloration can be mimicked.

In addition to being dry, their tongues can extend far out of their beaks and produce clicking noises.

Cockatoo Tongue Anatomy

The tongue of a cockatoo is soft, tiny, and can be pink or dark-colored at first impression. The tongue is made up of muscles and is held together by a hyoid apparatus consisting of cartilages. These cartilages ensure that the cockatoo tongue is strong enough to carry out functions like crushing and grinding nuts for consumption.

There are also another 5 components called the para glossal bones attached to the bone in the cockatoo tongue which further strengthens it.

Cockatoo is able to crush and move their food within the mouth because it has a tongue designed in such a way that it is easy to eat food and perform other functions.

It’s possible for cockatoos to playfully stretch their tongues and carry out other activities with it.

The video below will show you the strong cockatoo tongue anatomy and the dexterity of its use.

Overall Look and Feel

The overall look and feel of the Cockatoo  tongue are as follows:

  • Thick
  • Thick
  • Y-shaped
  • Long enough to reach the bird’s beak

Just like cockatoos lorikeets also have tongues adapted for different functions. Lorikeets have tongues that can be used for a variety of feeding tactics. Brush or bristle-like appendage on the tip of the tongue

This is used to collect pollen from flowers, which is an important source of sustenance in the wild. They can, however, take advantage of this special trait in a variety of other ways.

However, the cockatoo is Y-shaped, long, and with an indentation at the end, cockatoo tongues are unique. The para glossal bone, according to Acta Biomater, is responsible for allowing cockatoos to grip and hold onto objects.

The 5 skeletal structure in your cockatoo’s tongue is the paraglossal bone. The Hyoid apparatus is an important element in the cockatoo tongue.

For the most part, the goal of the paraglossal bone and the hyoid apparatus is to keep the tongue in place, extend and compress the tongue

Black Palm Cockatoo Tongue

The black palm cockatoo just like every other cockatoo has tongues that are designed anatomically to help in crushing and moving food down their gullets into the stomach.

Blue and gold hyacinths are two examples of species with distinct color patterns. As a result, its tongue is a bright blue with yellow patches. As with the red and black palm cockatoo, the tongue of the black palm cockatoo is black and the red palm cockatoo’s tongue is red.

The color of a cockatoo’s tongue should not change once it has been established. A change in the color of the tongue may indicate an infection. For example, white or yellow tongues can indicate an infection.

Cockatoo Tongue Flicking

A quick up-and-down movement of the upper beak is common when cockatoos and other Cockatoos wiggle their tongues. Although some naughty birds may use this activity as an invitation to pet and subsequently bite for fun, this is a behavior of enjoyment.

The cockatoo’s tongue flicking is a way for a cockatoo to show its happiness and be playful but you should be careful of trying to touch their tongues while they do this because you may end up getting bitten.

Why Do Cockatoos Flick Their Tongue

Only birds, not humans, can alter the pitch of their voice box’s output by moving their tongues. Convergent evolution, say the researchers, may have produced this discovery.

Unlike beak clicking, tongue clicking is used when they feel safe and want to be noticed. Like the sound made by clicking the tongue against the roof of one’s mouth, it can be heard in cockatoos.

Therefore, cockatoos may flick their tongue when they want to have fun with you and play around.

How Do Cockatoos Make Sense of the World with Their Tongues?

There are specific muscles that have evolved to support and enhance Cockatoo physiology.

What Is the Purpose of the Tongue Movement in Cockatoos?

Cockatoo moves their tongues for many reasons that have to do with their daily life activities. The tongue movements may be made for the following purposes;

  • Lick
  • Touch
  • Bite
  • Taste
  • Push food down their gullets

Using their tongues to shape air and sound, they may mimic human speech and make other noises, such as those that are generally reserved for mammals.

What Causes Dry Tongues In Cockatoos?

Cockatoo tongues are known for being extremely dry, especially at their tips. To keep little items or pieces of food in place, Cockatoos might use their tongues to grip the object.

You may notice that the tongue towards the base and rear of the throat is slightly moist. However, you may never get to see saliva on their tongue like humans except if you look deeper. You shouldn’t see your Cockatoo drooling because Cockatoos make only a small amount of saliva. This is because their salivary glands are positioned only in the throat region.

After all, Cockatoos are known to eat large pieces of fruit and vegetables in one go. To get food inside their gullets, birds don’t need saliva because they don’t chew. Food is pushed back into the gullet by the tongue. Allowing food to flow through the throat, a small amount of saliva is lubricated by the glands in the throat.

Tongue Hole In A Cockatoo.

Take a look inside your Cockatoo’s Tongue and you’ll see an aperture near the base of its tongue.

Despite its appearance, this is not a wound. When you look at it from the inside, you see the glottis, which link to other parts.

The glottis is a small cavity that sits just below the tongue’s surface and is located directly on top of the larynx (not to be confused with the syrinx, which allows a Cockatoo to speak). The glottis is part of the respiratory system.

The epiglottis, a leaf-shaped flap that covers the windpipe, protects the glottis. Inhalation causes the cover to open while swallowing causing it to seal shut. In addition to keeping food from entering our lungs, this stops us from aspirating by mistake.

Because a Cockatoo lacks an epiglottis, the glottis is always open. So, it’ll look like a hole in the tongue. For Cockatoos, the glottis must always be open, even when they are sleeping.

When startled, Cockatoos may accidentally choke on food. So it is important to allow your cockatoos to eat without startling them.

Is It Possible For A Cockatoo To Inflict Damage To Its Tongue?

A Cockatoo’s tongue may be protected by its beak, but it is still vulnerable to injury.

This might happen as a result of routine activity or unplanned events. In such cases, caution is advised. A cut or laceration to the tongue will cause it to bleed excessively.

It is through their sense of taste and touch that Cockatoos can navigate their environment. The unfortunate result of this is that a Cockatoo may accidentally cut itself while doing these routine tasks.

Chewing on something sharp, such as a shattered toy, is one possibility.

Metal, such as a zippered type of material can cause an injury to the cockatoo’s tongue.

Territorial fights among flock members, especially the larger and more aggressive birds, such as cockatoos, can result in cuts on the tongue.

Smaller Cockatoos may be permanently disabled and unable to feed themselves if they get serious wounds on the tongue. Therefore, caution is advised to ensure that your cockatoo does not engage in activities that may cause injury to the tongue.

Can  Cockatoos Be  Infected With a Tongue Disease?

Even seemingly small infections can swiftly become life-threatening due to the sensitivity of the tongue. Even a minor cut or scrape on the tongue can become infected if left untreated.

Many tongue infections are caused by foreign substances. If the Cockatoo sticks its tongue out of the bars of a rusty cage, it could get hurt. It is possible to get a splinter of wood from a toy implanted in the tongue. Below are also different conditions that may cause cockatoo’s tongue infection if care is not taken:

  • Hypovitaminosis

Hypovitaminosis, which is a lack of vitamin A, can cause more mucus to build up, according to the University Clinic for Companion Animals. As a side effect, it may cause white plaque to build up on the tongue’s underside.

Once infected, the tongue can become extremely irritated and swollen. The best way to avoid this is to eat a well-balanced diet

Bacterial and parasitic infections can also occur as a result of direct contact.

Infections that are most common include:

  • Trichomoniasis

The parasite trichomonas gallinae is responsible for this disease, which is spread through the consumption of water from infected sources. As a result, a painful condition known as canker develops at the base of the tongue.

A buildup of canker sores can lead to serious respiratory problems. This disease has a high rate of infection and death. Canker-infected flocks must be carefully examined. Culling may be essential if the virus spreads rapidly.

  • Poxvirus

The tongue, among other organs, is susceptible to this condition. In the case of diphtheria, symptoms appear as plaque on the tongue.

All birds, including Cockatoos, are in danger of contracting the pox virus. Mosquitoes are a common vector for the pox virus, which makes it an insect-borne disease.

Infection-Related Swelling of the Cockatoo Tongue

If the cockatoo’s tongue ever gets infected then one of the major signs to look out for is swelling of the tongue. Infections will cause the cockatoo tongue to appear swollen and tender.

Swollen tongues in Cockatoos pose a serious health risk because they can block the airways and cause respiratory problems. They also cause major discomfort for the cockatoo and may lead to other behavioral changes.

  • Behavioral changes, such as aggressiveness and annoyance, are brought on by a swollen tongue.
  • Feeding or Preening Difficulties: A Cockatoo’s tongue could be torn or one of its internal bones broken by a bite from another Cockatoo, resulting in inflammation. Tongue movement is restricted when the paraglossal bone is broken.

It also makes it difficult for the Cockatoo to eat or drink. Even if the bone is not broken, osteomyelitis can result from a hard bite (a severe bone infection.)

To speak like they always do navigate the environment around them, and maintain excellent health, Cockatoos have developed complex tongues.

They are unique to each species, but they all work together to allow them to survive and if it ever gets infected, then navigating and living a comfortable life may become difficult for your cockatoo, this is why it is very important that take care of your pet cockatoo and ensure that they stay safe and healthy.


So, if you ever wondered about the tongue anatomy of a cockatoo, we have done a thorough research and written this article to provide all the information you may need.

If you have any more questions about the cockatoo’s tongue, its anatomy, and its functions please ensure to drop them in the comment section.