Did you know that unlike llamas, alpacas have almost no enamel present on the inner side of their incisor teeth? As a result, the incisor teeth of alpacas will continue to grow throughout adulthood, making them prone to a number of dental abnormalities that require intervention.
Overgrown Incisor Teeth
The incisor teeth of the bottom jaw should always meet the dental pad on the upper jaw (see picture). This relationship between the teeth and dental pad enables alpacas to grasp food and eat normally. In their natural habitat, alpacas eat an abundance of rough foliage, thereby constantly grinding down the length of their incisors. In NZ, many alpacas are fed a supplementary grain based diet, which doesn’t help this situation. Without the proper alignment, alpacas cannot eat properly, can become very thin and can die.
Canine Fighting Teeth
Alpacas have razor sharp fighting teeth on the upper and lower jaws. In males, these fighting teeth are used to bite and cut an opponent during a fight. Fighting teeth can measure up to 3cm long in some males and can cause serious if not permanent injuries if they are not regularly trimmed. Common injuries include severed ears, lacerations to the legs, tail and even the testicles.
Alpacas can develop dental abnormalities at any age. Do your alpacas have any of the following?
- Long or crooked teeth protruding past the dental pad?
- Difficulty eating or chewing food?
- Dropping food from the mouth?
- Losing weight or a low body condition score?