As is the case with all felines, a tiger’s tongue is as rough as sandpaper, covered with small, hook-shaped growth called papillae, which point toward the back of the mouth, and resemble a rough surface filled with thousands of tiny teeth that have the touch of a hairbrush. They’re sort of like hairs because they’re made of keratin, the exact same protein our fingernails are made from.
Of course, these papillae are designed to help strip meat clean off a tiger’s kill. And that’s why the mere thought of it is enough to send shivers down our spines.
But when a friendly tiger licks you, there is no need to worry: just like domestic cats, tigers will often lick either their own kind, or the humans they’ve become habituated to (as seen in the pictures above and below), out of affection and not aggression – they will even use licking as a means to ease anxiety in the exact same way we use hugs!
To conclude, no matter how much a tiger’s tongue feels so damn rough, nevertheless, when it licks you, it’s a sign of sheer friendliness asking for affection in return, not a sign of seeing your skin ripped off. So, instead, get ready to hug the world’s biggest and most dangerous feline!
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