Official website of the Victorian Eastern Region of the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

The Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Victorian Eastern Region of the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Teething in Alpacas

- by Allison Quagliani

During an alpacas life it will have two sets of teeth, a deciduous (or baby) set and a permanent set. The deciduous teeth are replaced by the new teeth at specific times and this process should be complete by the time the alpaca is around four years old. If you look in your alpacas mouths at certain ages you will be able to see the changes that occur.


Fig 1
Fig 1

 

A full term cria is usually born with its two front incisors already through the gum. By the time it is six months old it will have all six of its deciduous incisors - Fig 1.



Fig 2
Fig 2

Fig 2 shows a ten month old alpaca.

 

When the alpaca reaches two years of age the central two incisors are replaced. Sometimes the deciduous teeth are shed before the new teeth erupt through the gums. Often the new teeth erupt before the old teeth are lost and the mouth appears crowded for a month or so.



Fig 3
Fig 3

This alpaca is two years old. It has lost one of its deciduous teeth and will soon lose the other. The discoloured tooth is actually the new tooth. The new, permanent teeth always erupt behind the deciduous teeth - Fig 3



Fig 5
Fig 5

At two and a half years old this alpaca lost its two deciduous teeth moments before this picture was taken. The new teeth are already half grown - Fig 5



Fig 6
Fig 6

This alpaca is also two and a half years old. You can clearly see the two new teeth (discoloured). They are in a perfect position! - Fig 6



Fig 7
Fig 7

At three years old the next two incisors are replaced and within the next few months all six will have all been replaced. This is a three and a half year old alpaca that has lost his corner incisors - Fig 7



 

The new teeth grow quite quickly without any noticeable disruption to the alpaca’s lives. Occasionally the deciduous teeth do not fall out as they should and can affect the occlusion and health of the permanent teeth. In this instance extraction should be considered.

 

As always I recommend you to take a few moments when you are handling your animals to have a look at their teeth. This way you will become familiar with what is normal and able to recognise any abnormalities before they become serious problems.

 

Further Reading

Dental Malocclusions in Australian Alpacas by Allison Quagliani, AAA Conference Proceedings, 2006