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November 29th, 2003 . Removing Fighting Teeth


Alpaca Training
I have a question regarding the male alpaca's fighting teeth. I've read where you mention having the teeth removed. I have heard other alpaca owners speak about filing down the biting teeth but never removing them. I was wondering why you recommend removing the teeth. Couldn't you file those teeth down to a blunt bite so they are not going to do any damage rather than physically extracting the teeth? 

We're new to the business so any help is appreciated.

Alpaca Training

Fighting teeth must be dealt with if your alpaca male is going to interact with other males and since many males do some ear biting as they breed it is really the prudent approach even for breeding males that live alone. There are a few different approaches to fighting teeth. They can be removed totally including the root which involves major surgery and is more risk, effort and expense than most people are willing to deal with. Cutting the tips off of the teeth is by far the easier and safer route and offers most of the same benefits. There are a couple of different approaches to removing the tips of the teeth: 

1. Trim the tips of the teeth as they first erupt when the males are between a year and a half and two and a half years old. At this point, the very pointed tiny tips are removed ideally when the male is being shorn (presumably stretched out or otherwise restrained for shearing) without sedation. These tiny tips can be nipped off with a variety of tools most commonly the same nippers one uses for trimming nails. 

2. Larger and longer teeth in older males can be removed with OB wire ideally when the male is restrained for shearing or sedated. Longer teeth require more time and care to remove and sedation makes the job easier for the handler as well as the alpaca. With the alpaca sedated, the job can be done carefully and the tips of the teeth can be filed off and made smooth. This is an especially good idea for new and inexperienced handlers. 

~ Marty McGee Bennett


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