Spitting may be considered a rude behavior in humans, but it can be a useful act in the animal kingdom. Several different species of animals spit to help capture food or prevent the animal from becoming a meal themselves. You can be sure that if an animal is spitting, it’s for a good reason.
11 Animals That Spit and Why They Do It
Have you ever wondered if animals spit? And if so, why do they do it? Most animals spit to defend themselves from predators or as a way to demobilize their prey. Keep on reading to learn more about 11 animals that spit.
1. Alpacas and Llamas
Scientific Name: Vicugna paces and Lama glama
Alpacas and llamas are both members of the camel family, and they have similar appearances and mannerisms to one another. For example, both alpacas and llamas can spit when they feel threatened or annoyed.
And this spit can be straight saliva, or saliva mixed with stomach acid or vomit. However, alpacas are generally more friendly and less likely to spit at humans. Llamas, on the other hand, are known for having a spicier attitude. While the spit from both of these animals isn’t harmful, it can have a foul odor.
2. Black-Necked Spitting Cobras
Scientific Name: Naja nigricollis
The black-necked spitting cobra is native to sub-Saharan African areas, and it spits venom from its fangs when it feels threatened. To make matters worse, the snake aims for the eyes when it shoots its venom.
Thankfully, the mortality rate in humans for untreated bites is pretty low with less than 1-percent being fatal. The black-necked spitting cobra measures about 3 to 7 feet long, and has black or gray colored bodies with yellow, gray, or red bellies. Their name comes from the black band that is around their neck.
3. Spitting Spiders
Scientific Name: Scytodidae
The spitting spider is different from other spider species since it doesn’t use fangs to bite its prey and instead chooses to spit at them. They project the fluid in a zigzag pattern, and once the spit makes contact with its prey, it congeals, making it difficult to escape.
Furthermore, they can spit at a rate of up to 30 meters per second, according to The University of Queensland. They measure only about 0.12 to 0.24 inches long, and have long slender legs that give them a slow-walking movement. Spitting spiders are not harmful to humans or pets because their small fangs cannot pierce skin.
Scientific Name: Cercopoidea
The spittlebug is a garden pest that feasts on various plants, such as roses, herbs, and strawberries, sucking up the plant’s juices. While they are not harmful to humans, they can cause problems with your garden plants.
Leaf loss and poor fruit production are a common symptom of a spittlebug infestation. One of the easiest ways to determine if spittlebugs are present in your garden is to look for “spittle” on your plants.
The mass of white frothy spit is produced by the nymphs, who use this substance to protect them and keep them from drying out.
Scientific Name: Toxotes
The archerfish is an interesting surface-dwelling fish that essentially turns its mouth into a water gun to strike down insects flying above the water. They do this by spitting a stream of water from their mouth and out of the water.
According to the Denver Zoo, these amazing fish can shoot water up to five feet above the water’s surface. The Archer fish measure up to 12 inches long and are native to the Philippines, Oceania, Australia, New Guinea, Southeast Asia, and India.
Scientific Name: Camelus
When a camel feels threatened or angry, they will spit at their attacker. This spit is made from saliva, mixed with some of the animal’s stomach bile, which makes for an unpleasant smelling substance.
Camels are typically found in the desert, steppe, or prairie, but have been domesticated and spread throughout the globe. There are three species of camel, and they can weigh up to 2,200 pounds.
What’s even more interesting about camels is that their humps can store up to 80 pounds of fat, and they can travel up to 40 miles per hour, according to the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad.
7. Scorpion Flies
Scientific Name: Panorpa nuptialis
This unusual looking fly is found in gardens, at the edge of wooded areas, and in hedgerows. They get their name because their long abdomen is curled upward over its body, which gives it a scorpion-like appearance.
While they may look frightening, they are not harmful to humans, they don’t sting or bite, and are actually beneficial scavengers. Unlike the other animals on our list, the scorpion fly doesn’t spit to attack or defend themselves. The male scorpion fly will actually offer a ball of their spit to the female of the species to entice her to mate with them.
Scientific Name: Odobenus rosmarus
Walruses are large marine animals native to the arctic areas near the North Pole. According to Science Daily, walrus will spit water at the ocean floor to look for mollusks and clams, which are a major part of their diet, hiding in the mud.
It is also common for them to spit water when they are playing around. These impressive mammals can dive as deep as 300-feet and stay under the water for up to 30 minutes. Did you know that both the male and female of the species have tusks? It’s true! The mammal itself can weigh in at a whopping 3,748 pounds!
9. Eurasian Rollers
Scientific Name: Coracias garrulus
The Eurasian Roller measures up to 13-inches long with a wingspan up to 23-inches in length. This bird has brightly colored plumage and produces babies with a unique defense mechanism. The babies of this species will spit up vomit, covering themselves in it, when they feel threatened. This not only makes the babies less attractive to hungry predators, but it also signals to their parents that something is wrong.
10. Turkey Vultures
Scientific Name: Cathartes aura
The Turkey Vulture is not the most attractive-looking bird, and actually has some pretty disgusting traits to keep them protected and safe. They use their vomit, which they can spit up to 10 feet, as an act of defense.
Would you continue to harass or disturb something that will projectile vomit its food onto you? Probably not. These birds also urinate on their legs to help keep them cool when it’s hot. Another interesting fact about this scavenger is that they cannot kill prey. Their feet are more like chickens, so they cannot use them to rip through prey. They instead feed by thrusting their powerful beaks into the bodies of rotting animals.
11. Fulmar Petrels
Scientific Name: Fulmarus
The Fulmar Petrel is typically found nesting on the edge of rocky cliffs. This sea bird has a long wingspan with a gull-like appearance and will spit an unpleasant-smelling oil at anyone or anything that bothers it. The Fulmar Petrel feeds on various marine creatures, including fish, marine worms, carrion, small squid, and crustaceans.
They typically forge for food at the water surface, but will also dive up to 12-feet below the water surface for fish. It is not uncommon to see these birds following fishing boats forging for something to eat.