Teeth are an essential part of everyday life for both humans and animals. Besides their main function, chewing, teeth have several other roles in animals’ lives.
Carrying the young, defensive purposes, killing the prey, scaring potential predators, among other uses.
Yet, what many people want to know is, do animals without teeth exist? Absolutely.
Today, we are going to talk about 9 animals without teeth.
And if you want to learn more about these toothless animals, stick with us, as we are going to uncover their special hunting and eating techniques.
Animals Without Teeth
Scientific Name: Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Class: Mammal Diet: Insectivore
The giant anteaters are insectivores animals that live in grasslands and rainforests of Central and South America. They are also known as ant bears.
Due to their diet, these mammals do not have teeth, and they rely on their long tongues when it comes to feeding. Giant anteaters eat up to 35,000 termites and ants on a daily basis.
Did You Know: When feeding, giant anteaters flick their tongue more than 150 times per minute!
Giant anteaters have bad eyesight, yet, the sense of smell is what they rely on when searching for the next meal. They would use their sharp claws to make a hole in the anthill, after which they would use their long sticky tongues to collect ants.
However, ants would fight back and sting the tongue of the animal, so anteaters usually do not spend feasting more than few minutes.
Scientific Name: Testudines
Class: Reptile Diet: Omnivores
Turtles are ancient reptiles, widely recognized by their bony shells. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, but the greatest number inhabit Asia and North America.
The vast majority of turtles are omnivores, meaning they feed on both animals and plant matter food.
Did You Know: The fastest turtle species on land can reach up to 3 MPH of speed!
Turtles are the only toothless reptiles, and they use their strong beaks to chew and tear the meals before swallowing.
It is worth mentioning that turtles hatch with one tooth, which is known as the egg-tooth. This particular tooth helps baby hatchlings break down the eggshell.
However, few months after hatching, the tooth will eventually fall off, and the newly born turtle will continue its life without teeth.
Scientific Name: Pholidota
Class: Mammal Diet: Insectivore
Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters are nocturnal creatures that live in burrows and hollow trees.
The bulk of their diet consists of termites and ants, and they use their well-developed smell sense to locate food.
Did You Know: Pangolins are one of the world’s most trafficked animals!
Because they have no teeth, pangolins cannot chew. But, instead, they swallow small stones, which help them break up their food. This part of their stomachs is known as the gizzard.
Pangolins pick up meals with their long tongues, which (depending on the species) can be as long as their body length. Pangolins usually consume up to 0,5 pounds of insects daily.
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Scientific Name: Mysticeti
Class: Mammal Diet: Carnivore
Baleen whales are widely spread whale species that live in colder waters of the Antarctic and Arctic.
These aquatic mammals feed on small fish and zooplankton. During the feeding season (six months), baleen whales eat up to 4% of their total body weight per day.
Did You Know: Even though they live in the ocean, baleen whales cannot breathe underwater, and they use their lungs to breathe!
Baleen whales use a special hunting method called filter feeding.
Namely, they’ll swim towards the prey with their giant mouths open and devour numerous small pieces of prey at once. After that, they will filter the food with their feeding plates, also known as baleen.
Despite not having teeth, whales utilize these special baleen plates for their dental needs.
Scientific Name: Araneae
Class: Arachnida Diet: Carnivore
Spiders are scary eight-legged creatures that live in almost every habitat on the planet, except for the polar regions.
They primarily feed on insects. However, bigger spiders would also feast on vertebrates, birds, snails, and even bats.
Did You Know: Spiders are earless animals, and they use their leg hairs as sound receptors!
Spiders do not have teeth, yet, they have two venom fangs which they use for their unique hunting methods.
When hunting, these creatures would immobilize their prey by injecting venom. Once the victim is motionless, spiders expel digestive enzymes into prey to break down the body tissue of an animal.
Spiders usually leave the animal’s exoskeleton intact while sucking up the “juice” or blood.
Scientific Name: Octopoda
Class: Cephalopoda Diet: Carnivore
Octopuses are eight-limb aquatic creatures inhabiting different depths and regions of the ocean environments.
Most octopus species are predators, and they tend to go after crabs, lobsters, clams, sea stars, and small fish, among other underwater creatures.
Did You Know: Octopuses have three hearts and nine brains!
When hunting, the octopus uses its powerful limbs to capture prey, injecting the venom to paralyze the animal. After it immobilizes or kills its prey, the octopus then uses its strong (bird-like) beaks to tear apart the catch.
Not bad for an animal without teeth.
Scientific Name: Lumbricina
Class: Oligochaeta Diet: Omnivore
Worms are very quiet animals that inhabit underground and freshwater habitats. There are more than 2,500 different worm species, and besides teeth, they lack arms, legs, and eyes.
Did You Know: Worms have the ability to regenerate different body parts!
Worms eat organic matter food; including fruits, vegetables, protozoans, fungi, bacteria, among others.
Even though they do not have teeth, worms possess powerful mouths, and they use the pharynx (throats) to break down food before entering into the gizzard for the final digestion.
Scientific Name: Tamandua
Class: Mammal Diet: Insectivore
Tamanduas are part of the anteater’s genus that usually live in forests and grasslands of Central and South America. These mammals are semiarboreal and have adapted prehensile tails for grasping and holding objects.
Did You Know: Tamanduas have one of the lowest body temperatures (90 degrees Fahrenheit) among all land mammals!
The bulk of their diet consists of termites and ants, in addition to bees and beetles.
Being animals without teeth, tamanduas, likewise pangolins, rely on gizzards in their stomach to digest food.
Tamanduas use their powerful limbs to dig insect nests, then use their 16-inch-long sticky tongues to slurp up prey. Daily, they can eat up to 9,000 different insects.
Scientific Name: Aves
Class: Reptile Diet: Omnivore
When we talk about animals without teeth, we must not forget birds. Although they are animal class rather than a single animals species, they are certainly worth mentioning.
The vast majority of birds are omnivores, while dozens of bird species are classified as carnivores. Very few are strict herbivores. However, regardless of the diet categorization, no bird in the world has teeth.
Did You Know: Several birds are the only animals that can fly and swim!
Without teeth, birds swallow their food as a whole and rely on the gizzard to break down their food. Some species swallow stones to help their digestion process.