This is what you get when you cross an alpaca with a dog… Just kidding. Believe it or not, this is just normal alpaca teeth.
If you’ve been here at our alpaca farm in Collinsville, Oklahoma for a farm tour, you’ve heard me talk about the three kinds of teeth alpaca’s have and how they use them. This picture shows two of them, incisors and fighting teeth. —->
Alpaca’s have incisors at the front of their mouths, but only on the bottom. On top they have a hard dental ridge that the incisors fit against. This allows them to graze by “clipping” the grass rather than ripping it out of the ground.
If the incisors grow past the dental ridge, they have to be trimmed back to fit again. You can see the incisors and dental ridge on the left side of the first image.
The second kind of alpaca teeth are what really surprise people. They are called fighting teeth, and for very good reason! Fighting teeth are very sharp and curve backwards. Alpacas have three on each side of their mouths, two on top and one on bottom.
Both males and females have fighting teeth, but it is typically only the males who use them and only when fighting with other males. Luckily for us, alpacas don’t use their fighting teeth on humans!
Males can do significant damage to each other with these sharp teeth. They will bite each other’s ears, feet and lower legs. They can even emasculate each other, which is their primary goal. After all, what better way to get rid of the competition than to render them sterile!
For these reasons young males’ fighting teeth have to be trimmed down as soon as they erupt. That happens around age 3. After the first trimming they just have to be checked periodically. If they start to regrow they only need to trimmed down again.
The third set of alpaca teeth are molars which are used to grind the feed, hay and grasses they eat. They sit way back in their mouth and are very hard to get a good look at. So, when an alpaca needs it’s molars worked on it has to be sedated. That way the vet can get to them without having to fight the animal.
Too bad you can’t just tell an alpaca to open it’s mouth wide and say ahhhhh! They hate the dentist more than we do! Well… except maybe this guy. —->
To hear more about these curious camelids, schedule your tour today!