When people first think of scary animal teeth, they first think of the great white shark or crocodile. The animal kingdom is so vast there are many other animals with terrifying teeth, like the babirusa and lamprey. Some of these animals can even regrow teeth throughout their life. Here is a list of the top 9 animals with the scariest teeth.
The babirusa is a wild pig with a severe dental problem. The males may look like they have horns, but they are canine teeth that have grown upwards through their skin. They are often called deer pigs as the males resemble deer as they look like they have antlers. They live on the Indonesian islands of Buru, Sulawesi, Sula and Togian.
Their canine teeth are called tusks, with males having lower and upper pairs that continue growing their whole life. They can reach lengths of 30 cm (12 in). The lower pair grow out from the sides of the mouth and curve upwards. The top pair grows upwards through the snout, then curves back towards the forehead. If they do not get damaged or broken, they will eventually grow into the skull, killing themselves.
It was once thought that the males used their tusks for fighting over territory or females, but the tusks are too brittle for combat. Perhaps they use them for courting a female. The bigger the tusks, the more attractive they may appear to the females.
Like all pigs, they are omnivores feeding on fruits, leaves, roots and very small animals. All other species of pig are strong diggers using their nose. But the babirusa lacks a rostral bone, so it is not a strong digger, only capable of digging in wet mud and swampy environments.
Mandrills are considered to be the most colourful mammals with their bright red and blue faces and behinds while also being the largest monkeys. Adult males have the more prominent canines being on average 4.5 cm (1.8 in) long, and the females only 1 cm (0.4 in) long. The canines play a vital role in mandrill society. Males with the longest canines command the most dominance over females when it comes to mating.
Only dominant males with the longest canines, fattest rumps, sides and most colourful individuals have the most success mating. Male mandrills with canines less than 3 cm (1.2 in) long stand little chance of fathering offspring.
The male mandrills use calls and facial expressions to establish dominance over one another. As if they fought using their teeth, they would inflict severe damage. When a male shows interest in a female, they grin, followed by lip-smacking sounds.
Mandrills are diurnal monkeys active during the day, spending their time at ground level foraging for food. Retreating to the safety of the trees at night to sleep, often picking a new tree each night. The mandrill is an omnivore, with 75% of their diet comprised of their favourite food, fruit and seeds. The rest of their diet is made up of leaves, piths, and mushrooms. The smallest part of their diet comprises of animals from insects to juvenile antelope.
The clouded leopard may only be a small cat compared to a lion or tiger, but they have the longest fangs relative to body size. Their upper canines can reach 4 cm (1.6 in) or longer, with the tip of their canines delivering a bite force of 544.3 newtons. They are capable of opening their mouths to nearly 100°. Whereas all other cats can only open their jaws no wider than 65°, they are often referred to as the modern-day sabre tooth tiger.
They are among the most talented climbers in the cat family due to their long tail, 61 – 91 cm (24 – 35.8 in), which helps them balance when in the branches. They are strong enough to come down a tree head first. Their powerful rear legs aid them in jumping over 1 m (3.2 ft) up trees.
They are found in Southeast Asia, south China and the foothills of the Himalayas living in tropical forests and dry woodlands. During the day, they rest in the branches before coming down at night to hunt. They prey on pheasants, monkeys, ground squirrels, Bengal slow loris, barking and hog deer, binturong and brush-tailed porcupines.
The lamprey is a fish that wouldn’t look out of place in Ridley Scott’s Alien with its toothed, jawless funnel-like sucking mouth. There are 38 species of lamprey, with 18 of those species being carnivorous. These lampreys are parasitic, feeding on live fish.
The lamprey’s mouth contains several circular rows of teeth, with each row having over a hundred teeth that act as hooks. The parasitic lamprey uses its teeth to attach itself to fish. Once it has a good enough suction, it uses its tongue to tear the skin off so it can feed on the host’s blood.
The non-carnivorous lamprey feeds on algae growing on rocks. Using their mouth for suction, they can climb over rocks to get upstream to breed. Their teeth are hollow, allowing a second tooth to grow inside. When the outer tooth falls out, they already have a replacement tooth.
Adults can grow anywhere between 13 – 100 cm (5 – 39.5 in) long and have a scaleless body. They live primarily in fresh and coastal waters but can also be found in landlocked lakes.
Hippos have the biggest teeth of any land animal! Their teeth grow continuously throughout life, with the males sporting the biggest teeth. The canines can be 50 cm (1.8 ft) long, with the incisors being 40 cm (1.4 ft). The males use their vast teeth to fight other males to win territory and mate with females.
When starting a fight, they begin by yawning at their opponent in a display of aggression before trying to inflict severe damage with their teeth. Their teeth are kept sharp by constantly grinding against each other when they open and close their mouth. They are the most aggressive animal in Africa, killing more people than lions.
They spend all day submerged in water to keep cool in the African heat, only venturing out at night to eat grass. They will eat around 40 kg (88 lb) each night, travelling as far as 2 – 3.5 mi (3.2 – 5.6). The hippos use their lips to pull the grass out and chew with their molars.
Great White Shark
You can’t talk about terrifying animal teeth without mentioning the great white shark. Their mouth, on average, has 300 teeth, each one serrated perfect for ripping flesh off an animal.
The shark’s teeth grow in rows and have up to seven of these rows. They often lose teeth when biting prey, so it’s a good job they can regrow lost teeth. In their lifetime, they can grow 20,000 new teeth.
Despite the great white shark having all those teeth, they only have an average bite force of 625 psi. This is considerably less than that of the south American jaguar, which has a bite power of 1,500 psi.
When hunting prey, they employ a bite-and-spit tactic that involves delivering one big bite to an animal and then letting it go. They stay close by, waiting for the animal to die before feasting. When sharks eat, they bite their prey and thrash their head around to rip off chunks of flesh and seem to go after the fattest parts of the animal.
Great white sharks will prey practically on any animal smaller than themselves, so their food includes fish, rays, other sharks, cetaceans, pinnipeds, sea otters, sea turtles and seabirds. They are responsible for more attacks than any other shark.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile. They have, on average, 66 teeth that are 13 cm (5 in) long. Like sharks, they can continually regrow new teeth and replace the same tooth 50 times.
The teeth aren’t sharp. You can easily run your finger along them without cutting yourself. They make up for having dull teeth by having the most potent bite force of any living animal, with a biting power of 3,700 psi. They will eat any animal that enters their territory, including humans.
The hagfish, like the lamprey, is jawless. It has two vertical bony plates that are covered in rows of sharp teeth. It scouts out the ocean floor in search of dead or dying creatures. When it feeds, it uses its teeth to burrow inside the animal and eat it from the inside out.
They have remained unchanged for 300 million years. They have no fins and instead use their paddle-like tail for swimming. Their skin is loose, able to freely move up and down their body like a loose sock.
In defence against predators, they produce slim from holes that run along their bodies. They can produce up to 20 litres (4.4 gallons) of slime in one go. When an animal has a hold of them, they squirm around, smearing the attacker’s body with slim. Either the predator loses its grip on the hagfish, or their gills get coated in slime, stopping them from breathing. In Korean food, slime is used as a substitute for egg whites as it is full of protein.
The locals know the goliath tigerfish in the Congo as M’Benga, which means “the dangerous fish” with its 2.5 cm (1 in) long teeth is easy to see why. On average, they weigh 50 kg (110 lb) and have a length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
They are piscivores meaning they will eat any fish that is smaller than them that they can overpower. So they will eat their own species and have been known to eat young crocodiles. They are only found in the Congo Basin.
Related Article Hagfish vs Lamprey what are the differences?