Can Frogs Bite?

Author: Staff Writer

Most do not think of frogs as particularly aggressive, but frogs can and do bite. Although they appear toothless, frogs actually have two types of teeth that they can use to aid in feeding or for fighting. In fact, scientists have recently discovered nine new species of "fanged" frogs with intimidating, vampire-like teeth jutting out of their lower jaws. With teeth like these, just how bad is a frog's bite?

Frog Teeth

Frogs have two different types of teeth: maxillary teeth, which grow from the upper jawbone, and a pair of vomerine teeth, which grow behind the maxillary teeth from the roof of the mouth. The vomerine teeth are very small and look like small nubs or lumps. The maxillary teeth form a shallow ridge along the inner edge of the upper jaw. Both sets of teeth tend to be relatively dull, meaning a bite from a frog would likely not break the skin.

Feeding

Most frogs feed on insects, worms, and small arthropods such as spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. Frogs capture their prey by rapidly extending their specialized, elongated tongues, which stick to the prey and pull it back into the frog's mouth. Since frogs' teeth are not formed into incisors, canines, and molars, they are not suitable for tearing, biting, or chewing prey. Because of this, frogs generally swallow their pray whole. Instead of biting, frogs' teeth are used to grip the prey until the frog can swallow.

Self-defense

Although most frogs use camouflage or poisonous skin secretions for self-defense, some species may still resort to biting. Frogs may bite when agitated or during mating season. The males of some frog species tend to become territorial and belligerent during breeding periods and will bite or kick their rivals. South American horned frogs-also known as "Pac Man" frogs and now popular as pets-are notoriously aggressive when disturbed and may snap at perceived threats. Even the most hostile frog, however, is incapable of inflicting more than a blunt nip due to the tiny size and dull surface of its teeth. Frog bites do not pose a danger to humans.

Frogs with Fangs?

In recent years, scientists have discovered new species of "fanged" frogs in Indonesia. These frogs have small fang-like projections protruding from their lower jaws. These "fangs" aren't true teeth, however, but simply bony growths that resemble teeth in appearance. Scientists believe that these frogs did not develop these "fangs" for biting, but rather evolved them to aid in seizing and gripping their agile, mainly aquatic prey.

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Works Cited

Thomas G. Carpenter Library
Anura
http://www.britannica.com.dax.lib.unf.edu/EBchecked/topic/29023/Anura

National Geographic
Fanged-Frog Pictures: 9 New Species Found
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/pictures/110816-fanged-frogs-new-species-indonesia-sulawesi-science/









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"Can Frogs Bite?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/can-frogs-bite.html>.  

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