A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 4, 2007

Time for a Dental Check Up

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , — alpacalady @ 7:08 am

Boys at the Wheat Fence

When we do our monthly herd health days, part of our routine is to check the alpaca’s teeth.  When we check teeth we are not only looking to see if their front teeth need trimming, but also looking to see if their jaw alignment is correct and if the fighting teeth on the male alpacas need trimming.

Male alpacas (and some females) have six fighting teeth located between the molars and the front incisors.  Four of the fighting teeth are located on the top jaw (two each side) and the other two fighting teeth are located on the bottom jaw (one each side). These fighting teeth are what would be referred to as the canine teeth in other species.

In alpacas the fighting teeth erupt at about 3 years of age, as they first come through the gum line they are small sharp points but within a short time those teeth will have grown to razor sharp teeth that can do a lot of damage. 

We have been fortunate not to have any serious damage caused by alpacas with fighting teeth, but I have seen an alpaca whose ear was split completely in two by another alpaca with fighting teeth.  I have also seen a male alpaca who lost a testicle due to an injury caused by another alpacas fighting teeth.  With injuries such as those being a possibility you can understand why keeping an alpacas fighting teeth trimmed is so important.

Sometimes though despite our best efforts we will get signs that someone needs attention to their fighting teeth.  Yesterday evening as I was doing chores I noticed that Moonie had some blood on his neck.  I caught Mooney, examined him and discovered that he had a patch of dried blood at the base of his ear.   The injury to Mooney’s ear was not a bad one, more of a puncture wound than a tear, but like most ear injuries it had bled a lot.  

Having determined that Mooney was okay it was now time to find the culprit who caused the injury.  I looked for blood on any of the other alpacas in Mooney’s pen and low and behold there was Braveheart with blood on his neck.  I caught Braveheart and examined him to make sure he was okay.  Sure enough he was fine, he was just wearing some of Mooney’s blood.

My next step was to check Braveheart’s fighting teeth, looking at them I could see that they were trimmed and looked good but there was a snag on one of them that allowed the tooth to have a very sharp edge.  So Mr. Braveheart is going to have a little dental work done as we remove the sharp edge from that tooth.  It will only take us a few minutes to fix the problem tooth but it will prevent Braveheart from injuring another alpaca in the future.


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