10 Examples of Animals with Tusks (Pictures and Facts)

Typically growing in pairs, tusks are essentially elongated, continuously-growing front teeth which extend well beyond the mouth. They’re often confused with horns and while similar, tusks are made of enamel just like regular teeth are. There are many animals with tusks, though most of us can probably just think of a few off the top of our heads.

Let’s go ahead and talk about many more animals who have them in order to help them survive Mother Nature better.

10 interesting animals with tusks

The following list contains 10 random examples of animals with tusks, which are really just long teeth that grow beyond the mouth. These tusks are used by their owners for many different reasons that we’ll discover, but it really boils down to pure survival.

1. Elephants

elephants fighting

This is probably the first animal who comes to mind for most of us when we think of species with tusks. Elephants are known to be gentle giants who use their tusks for many things like feeding, creating holes in the ground, lifting branches, and much more.

Males generally have bigger tusks than females, and are notoriously known for having theirs hunted by poachers. In the past, there were many relatives of the elephant who also had tusks, such as the woolly mammoth and American mastodon.


2. Narwhal

narwhals | image by Ansgar Walk
via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5

The narwhal is featured in many fairy tales, and is kind of like the unicorn of the sea. Forget what we said for a moment about most animals having 2 tusks, because these guys just have one. What further makes their tusks so unique and interesting, is that their tusks spiral clockwise.

As you can imagine, the spiral look makes it look even more impressive! Found in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s typically only the males who have one – growing out of the left side of their face! While it’s not a rule, you’ll occasionally find a female with a tusk or even a male with 2!


3. Warthog

These snorty creatures are much cuter in The Lion King, coming with some pretty scary looking tusks. Theirs are quite different from the others, in that they have 2 pairs of tusks!

The top pair is usually curled more, where the bottom pair is sharper and straight like a dagger. Males use the uppers in ritual combat, and typically never use their lower ones unless they’re in real danger, as they can inflict serious injury.


4. Walrus

walrus laying on rocks

Walruses are enormous, and while they may look like gentle giants from far away, they’re nothing to mess with. Found on both males and females, with males, they can grow as long as 3.25 feet and weigh up to 12 pounds.

In fact, theirs are the largest canines of any animal known to humans. As they live so far into the Arctic, these tusks are absolutely necessary for helping them lift their heavy bodies onto the ice. Not only that, but they are used as a defense mechanism against predators and for finding food.


5. Hippopotamus

hippo with mouth open next to a water hole

Hippos are absolutely massive animals, which can cause serious injury as well. With tusks that start from their bottom incisor teeth, they are also unfortunately hunted by poachers.

You may also like:  12 Invasive Species in Texas (With Pictures)

One of the reasons why they’re such a target is because their tusks do not turn yellow with time. As one of the heaviest mammals on land, they use their tusks to fight other males and defend their territory.


6. Vampire deer

Chinese water deer | image by Nick Goodrum via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Okay, so we know that male deer have antlers, but tusks? That may sound like something out of a scary movie, but it’s true. There is a species of deer in southern Asia called the muntjac, along with the water deer and musk deer that are all called “vampire deer”.

Their nickname is inspired by their thin, enlarged canines that almost give them a cat-like appearance. While many experts argue as to whether or not these are “genuine” tusks, they have just about all the qualifications to be.


7. Strap-Toothed Whale

This whale is more commonly known as the “beaked whale”, which can grow up to an impressive 20 feet. Normally found in the chillier parts of the southern oceans, it’s quite easy to spot due to its black-and-white appearance.

It’s called “beaked” due to its beak being white with a black face. They also have notable tusks that sprout from each side of the mandible, swinging back at a 45-degree angle until they meet. They form a kind of strap-like appearance, and are much flatter than the other animals’ tusks.


8. Babirusa

Babirusa | image by Schristia via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

This wild pig is a cousin of the warthog, which we already covered further up in our list. Found in the rainforests as well as around Sulawesi’s freshwater spots, it does have a more traditional pig-like appearance.

However, this isn’t a cute little piggy. It comes sporting very threatening-looking tusks growing from each side of their upper jaw and snout. Some even have a lower set of tusks coming out from the side of their mouths.

These also cure backward, creating a kind of shield around its face. Some of them have tusks that actually meet, where others have grown so long that they can even pierce the animal’s face or head.


9. Hyrax

Hyrax

This may be hard to believe from far away, but the furry little hyrax is actually a relative of the elephant! With 2 incisor teeth that have grown out to be little tusks, however, there are some notable similarities.

These rodent-like creatures are found all throughout the majority of Africa, along with the Arabian Peninsula. Made for rock-climbing, they have very strong feet and limbs. However, it’s crucial that they have these tusks in order to give a strong bite to anyone who tries to threaten them.


10. Elk

Rocky Mountain bull elk

Okay, so this one is a bit different from the rest. While elk have absolutely stunning sets of antlers (the males, anyway), did you know that all elk have ivory-like canine teeth? These teeth are left behind from what used to be tusks, many years ago.

The vestigial tusks are located in the upper jaw near the front of the mouth and are made from exactly the same materials as what the tusks on walruses, elephants, etc. are made from. Prehistoric elk and deer actually did not have antlers, but instead had tusks!