One of the most incredible things in all of the animal kingdom is the frog’s tongue. Think about it. In under a second, it can spring out of the frog’s mouth, grab a flying insect in mid-air, and then pull itself back into the mouth to enjoy the meal. That’s amazing!
Have you ever wondered how that is possible?
What Makes A Frog’s Tongue So Fast?
It all comes down to the anatomy of the mouth and tongue of the frog. The frog’s tongue is full of specialized muscles that are attached to the front of the frog’s mouth, instead of the back like human tongues or the tongues of other mammals.
While the frog is at rest, all these muscles are relaxed and soft. When a frog sees it’s prey, the muscles of the tongue are stimulated.The muscles located in the center of the tongue become rigid and become rod-like. Other muscles under the underside base of the tongue stiffen and this forces the center muscles up and out like a spring. This takes less than a second.
The tissue at the end of the tongue remains soft. This is the part that sticks to the unfortunate prey. After the tongue attaches to the prey, the tongue is rapidly pulled back into the mouth by another set of tongue muscles.
This entire process happens in an instant – less than a second. That’s some fast muscle action!
The specialized muscles of the frog’s tongue are, also, very strong. Some species of frog have tongues strong enough to lift 3 times their body weight!
Why Is A Frog’s Tongue So Sticky?
When a frog’s tongue is extended from the mouth, the end of the tongue “grabs” the prey. The tongue actually sticks to the prey using adhesive-like properties. The tongue is covered with small fibers and mucus. These work together to create a sticky surface sort of like tape. Researchers have found that the presence of more mucus does not make the tongue stickier. In fact, they found that the less mucus, the less sticky the tongue.
Do Frogs Swallow Their Prey Whole?
After catching their prey, frogs don’t chew them up. Most frogs have no teeth, and those that do only have a few small upper teeth that they use for grasping only. Frogs must swallow their food whole.
When frogs swallow, their eyes close and sink down into their heads. This helps the frogs push the food into their stomachs.
More Frog Resources
Frog Tongue Craft
This fun craft models the action of a frog tongue. It’s simple enough for small kids, but fun and practical enough for big kids, too. All you need is:
- This FREE Frog Tongue Craft printable template
- colors or markers
- a party favor blowout/blower