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Which Animals Are Kosher?

Which Animals Are Kosher?

Kosher Animals


The Torah enjoins Jewish people to eat only certain animals, which are commonly referred to as kosher. Which animals are kosher?

Land Animal

A land animal is kosher if it both a) has split hooves and b) chews its cud. Examples of kosher animals include cows, sheep, goats and deer. Examples of non-kosher animals include pigs, rabbits, squirrels, bears, dogs, cats, camels and horses.


The Torah lists 24 non-kosher bird species, primarily predatory and scavenger birds. While the Torah does not provide signs of kosher birds, the rabbis provide some clues (click here for the full article). Examples of kosher birds include the domestic species of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and pigeons.

Note: All warm-blooded kosher creatures (mammals and birds) must also undergo shechitah (kosher slaughter) and salting (to remove blood) before being eaten. In practice, only meat that is sold with reliable kosher certification may be used.

Fish & Seafood

A water creature is kosher only if it has fins and scales. For example, salmon, tuna, pike, flounder, carp and herring are kosher, while catfish, sturgeon, swordfish, lobster, shellfish, crabs and all water mammals are not. The rabbis teach that all fish with scales also have fins, so any fish with scales is kosher (provided that it conforms to the guidelines mentioned here). See the kosher fish list here.

Everything Else

All reptiles, amphibians, worms and insects—with the exception of four types of locusts—are not kosher animals. The common custom (practiced by almost all Jews, except certain Yemenite communities) is not to eat the kosher types of locusts either.

Read how Maimonides describes the kosher animal in each category.

Read G‑d’s original instructions in Leviticus 11.

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Phil London June 27, 2017

All reptiles, amphibians, worms and insects -- with the exception of four types of locust.....

Er. Wait. What?

How does that work? Reply

Simcha Bart for June 29, 2017
in response to Phil:

It does sound strange. Let's look at Leviticus 11, especially verse 22:

20. Any flying insect that walks on four, is an abomination for you.
21. However, among all the flying insects that walk on four [legs], you may eat [from] those that have jointed [leg like] extensions above its [regular] legs, with which they hop on the ground.
22. From this [locust] category, you may eat the following: The red locust after its species, the yellow locust after its species, the spotted gray locust after its species and the white locust after its species.
23. But any [other] flying insect that has four legs, is an abomination for you.

We see the Torah permits four types of locusts. Yet we have lost the tradition of which locusts the verse is referring to. Thus, practically we do not consider any locusts Kosher. (The Yemenite Jewish community, however, does have an uninterrupted tradition about the locusts the verse is referring to - and they deem those Kosher.)


Anonymous Surrey June 25, 2017

All the information and comments are all valid. In my opinion and overall I think it does matter what you put into your body. Sadly if you are bought up with eating these forbidden foods as a child and ate them as a part of your normal diet it is difficult to make the shift. Also children and adults will eat what they like, especially when they are hungry. If for example pork was the choice between eating or going hungry most humans would eat it. Reply

Fevos Papadopoulos Thessaloniki September 10, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

It was very difficult for me to stop eating pork, especialy bacon. Also shrimp. But when you start puting on a scale religion and taste, in my case religion won Reply

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