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Inside a deer's mouth

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Have you ever wondered how does a deer's mouth look from the inside, what kind of teeth, lips and tongue do deer have? We're going literally take a close look (using some high quality pictures) into fallow deer's mouth.

A deer's mouth has two sections. The front section is used for grabbing and breaking food and consists of eight teeth at the bottom jaw. Six of these are widely considered incisors, while the corner teeth (those closest to the premolars) are sometimes called canines.

Back section of the mouth is for grinding up food.

How many teeth do deer have?

Adult fallow deer have 30 teeth, and white-tailed ones have 32. These include: 12 molars, 12 premolars, 6 incisors and 2 canines.

Do deer have upper teeth?

Deer do not have any top front teeth but only a rough palate (a bony pad). Such combination helps the animals rip food out of the ground or off of plants. Deer do have molars in the back that they use to chew up their food before swallowing it and to chew cud.

Fawns have 'baby teeth'

Deer will have 'milk teeth' before their permanent set. Fawns typically have only 3 or 4 fully erupted teeth along each side of the jaw.

What do deer teeth look like?

And now the deer mouth pictorial.

Ready?

Don't be triggered, you've been warned!

...

deer wide open mouth

deer lower teeth

Nice set of lower teeth, you can see the enamel top layer is a bit transluscent. No plaque. That's what a carrot a day does. Keep's vet dentist away.

Next. Well, this one got on the carrot program a bit later in her life, she's more into nice, soft bread.

fallow deer mouth anatomy

But she regrets nothing!

deer tongue outThere's the 🦌 tongue, btw.

Deer skull picture (been sitting in our shed for ages)

deer skull top teeth

same skull from another angle:

deer scull back teeth

Telling deer's age by its teeth

Deer are using their teeth pretty much all the time as they have to eat a lot of vegetation to sustain themselves. Naturally, with age their teeth wear out. Older bucks and hinds have noticeably shorter front teeth, some even lose them completely. That hinders animal's ability to rip the plants off the ground.

Below is the picture of our oldest doe with her mouth open, which exposes the wear of her bottom teeth.

worn teeth old deer

Some additional information on deer teeth eruption, wear with age etc can be found here extension.missouri.edu

Truly shocking: Fanged Deer!

truth or deer tusks fangs

deer with fangs

The two images above are not ours and we make no copyright claim on them.

Male Chinese water deer use their tusks to compete with other males for dominance.
Interestingly, the scary fangs are loosely socketed and bucks can pull those fangs backwards when they're eating. Read more curious facts about deer here.

Deers' rare canine teeth and jewellery

Upper canine teeth in deer are uncommon and even could be considered on the borderline of rare. They are known as ivories, whistlers, buglers, eye teeth, dog teeth or pearl teeth. Deer upper canine teeth are equally likely to be found in both females and males. They erupt in fawns at about one year of age.

Used as decorative beads, pendants and necklaces, deer and elk canines have been found archaeologically from sites dating back to 3000-5000 BP. Here is a photo of jewelry made of such teeth that belonged to the royal couple of Great Britain. Among them is a gold six-petal brooch with green enamel, a birthday present to Queen Victoria from her husband in 1851.

royal deer canine jewelry

The six deer teeth belonged to deer hunted by Prince Albert. Here are the earrings decorated with deer teeth, also owned by Queen Victoria. A brooch with symbols of Scotland, as well as a hunting hat brooch - all decorated with deer "eye" teeth.

royal deer teeth jewelry

These canines are located inside the upper jaw of some deer. The trophy value of them is not only in beauty, but also in their rarity. According to some sources, chances of deer developing such canines are well below 1%.

A white-tailed deer with upper canine teeth harvested in Boundary County, IdahoA white-tailed deer with upper canine teeth harvested in Boundary County, Idaho. Credit: unknown.

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Well, that's basics of deer mouth anatomy covered. 

But wait! There's more!

Another view. Deer mouth from the side:

deer mouth from side

and a front view again:

open deer mouth

and a funny view, with tongue hanging on the side

deer tongue hanging out

...don't worry, Bluetooth is all right, she's just chewing a carrot using the teeth in the back of her jaw. Same as in the next picture:

funny deer tongue out

Watch Junkie the deer chewing carrot with her back teeth:

deer mouth anatomy

Seeing how there's no upper teeth, you might be wondering, does it even hurt if the deer bites you? Do deer bite? 

A fallow deer may not be able to bite your finger off (haven't tried to provoke them, though), but an excited deer being hand-fed will sometimes reach and grab to eagerly and when those bottom teeth scratch your hands you do feel it! It's not bad, but unpleasant. Kids should definitely not 'try this at home'.

Last modified 2022-10-10 at 02:14


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