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.