Squirrel standing on the wood stump when its mouth wide open.
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Squirrel Teeth: What You Need To Know

Squirrels have unique teeth that enable them to survive and thrive in different environments. Part of this comes down to their ability to eat nuts that they store for a mid-winter snack using their incredible teeth.

Other animals may be unable to crack open a nut, but squirrels have evolved to use their sharp teeth to get the job done. Combine that with hiding away food underground to keep it safe, and you have a species equipped with an incredible ability to survive in various climates.

Key Pest Points:

• Squirrels have their own unique set of teeth used for cracking open hard nuts and grinding softer foods. They are incisors, premolars, and molars, all of which they use for different purposes.

• They maintain healthy teeth by chewing twigs and bark to prevent them from becoming too long.

• Teeth issues such as Malocclusion and overgrowth can occur in squirrels, which can cause discomfort and potentially put their survival at risk.

What Kind Of Teeth Does a Squirrel Have?

Squirrels have teeth consistent with omnivores, meaning they eat various plant and animal matter. The diet allows them to survive in many different environments by utilizing available resources. 

They have teeth that do not stop growing, called “elodents,” which require grooming. Like other omnivores, squirrels have incisors, premolars, and molars specializing in different jobs.

  • Incisors: The front teeth of squirrels are long and sharp incisors. They are used for biting, chewing, and gnawing food. They also help them grip things like nuts and branches.
  • Premolars: Behind the incisors are four premolars on both sides of the jaw. These are mainly used to break down food into more manageable pieces and grind them.
  • Molars: The flat teeth in the back of a squirrel’s mouth are molars. These are used for chewing and pulping up food, like nuts or fruits.

These teeth allow squirrels to survive in various environments and climates, utilizing different food sources. They’re also incredibly strong and can easily crack open hard nuts.

Close up of squirrel front teeth.
Photo credit: ​​©Puttinan Inchan/Shutterstock

What Do Squirrels Use Their Teeth For?

Squirrels use their teeth for a variety of purposes. Here are some of the activities they may engage in with their teeth:

  • Gnawing on food and objects, such as nuts or tree bark.
  • Chewing soft fruits and vegetables.
  • Grinding up harder foods like nuts into smaller pieces.
  • Chewing twigs to keep their teeth sharp and clean.
  • Gathering and storing food for the colder months.

In addition to their incredible teeth, squirrels have excellent memories that help them remember where they stored their food. This adaptation makes it much easier for them to find sustenance in harsh climates or during times of scarcity.

Do Baby Squirrels Have Teeth?

Baby squirrels grow up entirely independent, but when young, they are pretty helpless and need their mother’s attention. As soon as they are born, baby squirrels are toothless and rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition. However, within a few weeks, their first set of teeth will start to emerge, and by the time they are four to five months old, their adult teeth will be grown.

Adult squirrels have a permanent set of teeth for chewing and grinding food. Once baby squirrels have all of their adult teeth, they can start foraging for food in the wild. This is when their sharp incisors and grinding molars become essential for survival. 

What Diseases or Conditions Can Impact A Squirrel’s Teeth?

Just like humans, squirrels can experience a range of dental issues. Here are some of the most common conditions or diseases that can affect a squirrel’s teeth:

  • Malocclusion: This is when the teeth do not line up properly, which results in poor biting and chewing.
  • Overgrowth: This occurs when the molars and incisors grow too long, resulting in difficulty eating and if untreated, eventual starvation.
  • Odontoma: This is a tumor located in the tooth’s root, which can cause pain and impair biting.

Finally, it is essential to note that when a squirrel is injured, it can cause damage to its teeth that may lead to infection and other health issues. In these cases, the best action is to take the squirrel to a veterinarian for treatment.

Squirrel climbing a tree with food in its mouth.

How Do Squirrels Maintain Healthy Teeth?

Interestingly, squirrels have a way of keeping their teeth healthy and strong. They rely on a diet rich in acorns, hard nuts, and other plant matter to help wear down the outer layer of their incisors, preventing them from becoming too long. These outdoor pests can also sharpen their teeth as they chew, making this an essential part of their dental hygiene routine. 

These fun facts about squirrels and their teeth show why they are such capable and hardy creatures. From their sharp incisors to grinding molars, these critters rely on their fantastic chompers to survive in the wild.

Keeping squirrels outside your garden or home is the best way to ensure their safety and keep your property free of these pests. However, if you encounter a squirrel needing help, remember that its sharp teeth are just one part of what makes them such an amazing animal. They can lead long lives in the wild with proper care and attention.

FAQs

What is odd about squirrel teeth?

Squirrels have four front teeth that grow for their entire lives. Growing teeth enable them to keep them sharp to grind and crack open food constantly.

Do squirrel teeth need to be ground down?

Yes, squirrels rely on a diet of hard nuts and other plant matter to help wear down the outer layer of their incisors, preventing them from becoming too long. Additionally, they chew on twigs and bark to help remove plaque buildup that can lead to infection and decay. Grinding them down will sharpen them as well.

What do squirrel teeth do?

You may find squirrel bite marks on trees where they gnaw through tough bark. They also use them to grind down softer food; their teeth are essential for self-defense against predators.

Do squirrels bite? 

These critters will bite if they feel threatened and will do so to defend themselves from harm. If a squirrel has bitten you, cleaning it with soap and water is essential. Apply antibiotics to the area and contact your doctor to assess any additional risk of infection or rabies. In some cases, rabies vaccinations may be necessary. It is also important to contact your local wildlife authorities if the squirrel appears sick or aggressive.


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