Toad Tongues Slay With Seriously Sticky Spit

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How are frogs and toads so amazing at catching bugs? They smack ’em with a supersoft tongue covered in special spit, which flows into every nook and cranny of their target. Then, in less than a second, that spit transforms into a tacky glue, yanking the meal back into the toad’s maw.


This is a toad…

… and that was a cricket.

Let’s see that again.

The toad nabs the cricket in the blink of an eye.


Actually about 5 times faster than you can blink.

Toads are a type of frog, and frogs have some of the softest tongues of any animal.

Doesn’t that gooey pink noodle make you want to turn this guy into a prince?

The toad pops its lower jaw open, and launches its tongue at its prey.

With all this speed and force, how does the toad avoid catapulting its target right off the map?

It’s a combo of that super-soft tongue which helps envelop prey … and some very special spit.

A toad’s saliva starts off thick and sticky. But when the saliva hits prey at a high speed, it thins out dramatically, pouring into every nook and cranny the tongue touches.

And then, it becomes sticky again, drawing that meal down the hatch.

In their lab, researchers at Georgia Tech gathered and stretched frog saliva.

Good times.

They found the saliva morphs from the consistency of honey to water, and back again … in under a second.

So…honey! Water! Honey again!

Once inside the mouth, the toad has a new problem: ungluing its lunch.

To figure out how they do it, scientists at the University of Florida put tiny metal markers on cane toads’ tongues and filmed X-ray footage of them eating.

Keep an eye on the gold marker, right here. That’s the toad’s tongue.

Out, in, and down.

They found the toad basically swallows its own tongue deep into its body, right next to its toady heart.

It scrapes off its prey with a rigid piece of cartilage called a hyoid.

Right on into that tummy!

It’s a meal fit for a prince – a prince with a terrifically tacky tongue.

Oh, my.

This poor fella is having trouble keeping down his lunch.

Maybe he should have picked something smaller – like, mosquitoes!

Speaking of – did you know mosquitoes have 6 different needles to suck your blood?

Watch our episode to see ’em up close and personal.