Carnivore Teeth and Herbivore Teeth

What’s the difference between the teeth of carnivores and the teeth of herbivores?


Carnivores – or carnivorous animals – eat the flesh (meat) of other animals.

Carnivores have specialized teeth for killing an animal and tearing its raw flesh. These long, sharp teeth are called canine teeth or carnassial teeth. Some carnassial teeth are so strong that they can cut through bone.

Carnivores also have powerful jaws, a short nose, a strong neck, and powerful legs. This is because carnivores need to actively hunt and catch their prey, so they must be fast and strong.


Lion (carnivore)

Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger (carnivore)

Herbivores – or herbivorous animals – eat plants.

Herbivores do not need to run fast to catch its food, but they might have to run fast to escape carnivores.

Herbivores can be browsers (eating plants, leaves, fruit, roots, and twigs) or grazers (eating grass only) or supper generalists (most types of grasses and plants).

Herbivore browsers need pointed teeth to eat leaves and plants.

Reticulated Giraffe

Reticulated Giraffe (herbivore browser)

Herbivore grazers need laminated, flat-topped, cheek teeth to cut and grind grass.


Blackbuck (herbivore grazer)

Herbivore generalists need ‘combine-harvester’ teeth, which are a mixture of flat and pointed teeth.

Herbivorous animals – browsers and grazers – that live in the same region, but eat different types of plants, can avoid competition for food.


Photographer: Martina Nicolls



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