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tuma sheretz applies only to the shmonei sheratzim (8 critters) mentioned in the torah.

But what about tuma neveila (which is more severe)? Is it for all other animals or some? what about small animal species similar to the shmonei sheratzim? big fish/whales, etc.?

Is there a general principle here?

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Dead animals, whether kosher or nonkosher species, can become neveilah. Kosher animals are neveilah only if not shechted. Nonkosher animals are neveilah even if shechted. A person can become tameh by contact or carrying it. (Rambam, Hilchos AVos Hatumah, 1:2-3)

Dead kosher fowl not shechted are neveilah. Nonkosher fowl are not neveilah. Tumah is transferred to a person from dead fowl only through eating. (3:1,14)

Only the 8 sheratzim make a person tameh by contact, not carrying. (4:1-2) All other creepy animals like frogs and snakes have no tumah (4:14)

Fish cannot become nevilah

  • where do you draw the line between creepy animals which have neveila and those which don't. for example, squirrels, racoons, badgers... – ray May 4 '14 at 7:09
  • The difference between an animal like a cat or a mouse which is a sherets is that a cat walks on its legs whereas a mouse walks with its stomach touching the ground. – preferred May 4 '14 at 12:50
  • @ray a good question; I don't know if you'll be able to formulate a general rule, but the Torah merely has a list of eight. Different translations and commentators identify different ones though, check out R. Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah translation for a pretty comprehensive list of the different opinions (complete with pictures!) – הנער הזה May 5 '14 at 6:34
  • @preferred what about a rabbit? – ray May 5 '14 at 6:51
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    @ray, You will have to address your question Rabbi Slifkin – preferred May 5 '14 at 8:20

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