Beluga whales use their teeth to grasp prey, rather than for cutting or chewing, and the number of teeth varies with sex and age.
Beluga whales use their teeth to grasp their prey, rather than for cutting or chewing. Their teeth are conical in shape and the upper and lower teeth are interposed. This allows the whales to grasp prey efficiently.
A young beluga’s teeth appear between 1-2 years of age, depending on location, and all teeth have at least partially appeared by the end of a beluga’s third year. Belugas have only one set of teeth throughout their lives and the teeth are not replaced.
The number of teeth varies with sex and age and can range from 30 to 40. The size of the teeth depends on the size of the animal with a maximum size of 5 centimeters, (2 inches,) long and 1.8 centimeters, (0.7 in,) thick.
In addition, beluga teeth vary in pattern of wear as a result of their feeding from the sea floor. In some older animals, the teeth may be worn down to the gums.
Sources: (AMMPA, 2014, 2017; Brodie, 1971; Kleinenberg, Yablokov, Bel’kovich, & Tarasevich, 1969)