Frog Teeth: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: December 17, 2021
Image Credit photowind/Shutterstock.com
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A lot of amphibians may look like they don’t have teeth at all, but the truth is they do, just not the same set that we humans and other animals normally have. Instead, they have vomerine teeth, which are found only on the upper jaw and in the front area of the mouth of amphibians, and due to their teeny tiny size, they are not always visible to the naked eye. 

As amphibians with bulging eyeballs and slippery skin, frogs are well-known for their leaping ability and croaking sounds. They may be found all over the world and are some of the most diverse animals on the planet, with more than 7,000 different species to their credit. 

Frogs have always been oddballs when it comes to their teeth, and if you think about it, frogs don’t actually use their teeth to chew their food. They grab their prey using their elongated tongue, apply pressure on their mouth by sinking their eyeballs into their skull, and push the prey whole down into their mouth until they sink deep down their throat. Let’s dive into some interesting facts about frog teeth that you should know.

Do Frogs Have Teeth?

Frog Teeth - Frog Mouth
Though not all frogs have teeth, majority of them have maxillary and vomerine teeth.

iStock.com/Sinhyu

Not all frogs have teeth. But like most amphibians, the majority of frog species out there have two types of teeth in their jaw: the tiny teeth called maxillary, and those that are in the maxilla called vomerine teeth. Frogs’ teeth are not built for chewing food, but for gripping their prey with the help of their tongue. These teeth work together to aid the frog in anchoring and holding its prey in place.

Most of the time, frogs are mistaken to be toothless, but that is probably because we never had the reason to stare closely inside a frog’s mouth. However, if you do take a close look, you might see tiny teeth attached on the roof of their mouth and along their upper jaw, somehow resembling fangs. 

How Small Are Frog Teeth?

Frog Teeth - Frog Skeleton
Frog teeth are very small, with most of their teeth not bigger than half a millimeter.

photowind/Shutterstock.com

Frog teeth are notoriously small, which is perhaps why they’ve gone unnoticed for so long. Most frog teeth are less than a millimeter in length, and they are often not bigger than half a millimeter. However, if you magnify them using some of the CT scan analysis like that at the Florida Museum of Natural History, you can see that frog and other amphibian teeth are quite complicated.

The form of frog teeth differs greatly from that of mammals. While frog teeth are small and cone-shaped, mammals’ teeth come in a variety of forms and sizes because they have specialized functions, as opposed to frog teeth, which merely serve to hold food back.

Do Frogs Chew Their Food?

Frog Teeth - Frog Eating a Fly
Frogs consume their food whole by holding it in their mouth with their teeth.

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Instead of chewing or tearing their prey apart, frogs consume their food whole by holding it in their mouth with their teeth and then pushing it down their throat with their bulging eyeballs. Suffocating the prey in the stomach and mouth is a common method used by frogs to eat their food.

Types of Frog Teeth

Frog Teeth - Frog Anatomy
Frogs have two types of teeth – vomerine and maxillary.

iStock.com/Sinhyu

There are two types of frog teeth: vomerine and maxillary, and both have their own differences. 

Frogs, like humans, have maxillary teeth, which are located on the top regions of their jaws, but it is quite impossible to see these teeth from the outside. If somehow you get the opportunity to peer at their maxillary teeth, you will find a cone-like structured set along their mouth’s edges. The outline and size of each of the maxillary teeth are very similar to one another, as is the shape of the tooth. The maxillary teeth, like the vomerine teeth, are responsible for keeping prey under control until the frogs are ready to tuck in and consume, which normally happens rather quickly in most cases.

The vomerine teeth, on the other hand, are much smaller in size and therefore less noticeable to the naked eye. They are located in the maxilla, are distinctively pointed, and are found in pairs of little clusters in the vomer bone at the roofs of frogs’ mouths. The vomerine teeth are somewhat concealed by the mucous membranes, so they are not easily visible. Prey-oriented, the function of the vomerine teeth is to grab onto food in assistance of the tongues of the frog. These tongues and the vomerine teeth work together as a team to prevent prey from fleeing. 

Do Frogs Bite?

Most frogs do not bite, but there are some exceptions.

For the most part, frogs do not generally use their teeth for protecting themselves or for searching for prey, so biting is not a huge concern. However, some frogs may utilize their teeth for self-defense. Larger aggressive frogs, on the other hand, may have a forceful bite that can cause bleeding. But the good news is that most frogs do not bite in self-defense unless they are extremely huge and aggressive, such as the bulky Pac-Man Frog in South America and the African Bullfrog. These larger frogs eat larger prey like tiny reptiles, bats, fish, turtles, salamanders, mice, and small birds. Their teeth are more visible and sharp, and they may bite if they feel frightened or if they believe your finger is food.

Frogs have the tendency to bite as well once they believe they spot food. So if you move or wave your fingers too close to a frog, it might think of your finger as food and bite on it.

Do Frogs Lose Their Teeth?

Frogs frequently lose teeth, which are swiftly regenerated. Frogs shed their teeth when they become loose or are no longer sharp enough to perform their purpose, just as they shed their skin. Humans replace their teeth only once during their childhood, but frogs lose them on a regular basis, only to be replaced by new ones. This shedding will continue as long as they are alive.

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