John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
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Teeth

Alpacas, llamas and other camelids have deciduous (baby teeth which fall out) and permanent teeth just like any other species. How many of each type varies with each species.

Alpacas have three pairs of deciduous incisors (front teeth) on the bottom and one pair on the top. The incisors on the top are further back in the mouth than the bottom incisors and look more like canine teeth than incisors. This makes up one of the pairs of upper fighting teeth. Full term crias should have all three pairs of lower incisors at the time of birth. The deciduous incisors fall out and are replaced by permanent incisors at certain ages which helps to age the llama by its teeth. The first pair of incisors (the two close together in the middle) will fall out between 2 and 2.5 years old. The second pair (the next two over from the center) will fall out between 2.5 and 3.5 years old. The third pair will fall out anywhere between 3 and 6 years old.

Alpaca Teeth
A 2 year and 3 month old male who has lost his first pair of deciduous incisors (green arrow).

Alpacas have one pair of canine teeth on the bottom and one pair of canine teeth on the top. Only about 5% of males have deciduous canines and the permanent canines begin coming in by 2 to 3.5 years old. All four canine teeth are present in males , but may or may not be present in females. These are the other two pairs of fighting teeth. Males have a total of three pairs of fighting teeth (two pairs of canines and one pair of incisors which look like canines). The fighting teeth are very sharp and angled towards the back of the mouth. In the wild, these teeth are used to severely or mortally wound an opponent by cutting the jugular vein or the testicles. These teeth should be removed to prevent males from injuring each other during playing and fighting and to prevent males from injuring females during breeding. Some males will grab the ears of females with their mouth while breeding. This can result in cuts and scars on the female.

Alpaca Fighting Teeth
A 3 year old male whose upper fighting teeth have erupted (blue arrows) and lower fighting tooth has not yet come through the gums (green arrow).

Alpacas have two or three pairs of deciduous premolars on the top and one or two pairs of on the bottom. Premolars are the back teeth or cheek teeth closer to the front of the mouth than the molars. Premolars will have a deciduous or baby tooth which falls out before the permanent one erupts and molars will not. Molars first appear as permanent teeth. There are one or two pairs of permanent premolars on both the bottom and the top which come in at 3.5 to 5 years. The permanent premolars are premolars number 3 and 4 out of four. These are the two premolars which are closest to the molars. Premolars number 1 and 2 never develop in the llama and alpaca. This leaves a space between the incisors (or canines if present) and keeps all of the premolars and molars together without spaces between them in the back of the mouth for grinding up feeds.

Age of Permanent Tooth Eruption in Alpacas
First Incisors (I1) 2 to 2.5 years
Second Incisors (I2) 2.5 to 3.5 years
Third Incisors (I3) 3 to 4 years
Canines 2 to 3.5 years
Premolars 3.5 to 5 years
First Molars (M1) 6 to 9 months
Second Molars (M2) 1.5 to 2 years
Third Molars (M3) 2.75 to 3.75 years

Molars by definition are permanent teeth. There are no deciduous molars. Alpacas have three pairs of molars on the bottom and the top. The first pair of molars (right next to the last premolars) comes in on the bottom and top at 6 to 9 months old. The second pair of molars comes in on the bottom and top at 1.5 to 2 years old. The third pair comes in at 2.75 to 3.75 years old.

The molars and premolars of alpacas do not continuously grow (erupt) like they do in horses. This decreases their chance of developing sharp points which may make it difficult to eat and neccesitate "floating" of the teeth. Floating is the filing off of sharp unworn portions of the teeth commonly performed in horses. Alpacas also have more side to side motion in their jaw than horses which helps to keep tooth wear more even and further decrease the risk of developing sharp points.

Teeth may need regular care. Trimming of incisors is necessary in many alpacas, and can be done with a variety of tools, including a Dremel equipped with a grinding wheel or cutting disc, or a specially adapted angle grinder.

 
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