Maya came to see Dr Ruby because she had started showing less interest in eating hay, which she had previously really enjoyed, and had gone off larger food items like carrot. Her mum is a bunny-savvy owner and was concerned her teeth might be causing her trouble. Indeed, a look in Maya’s mouth showed that there was a problem. Her front teeth (incisors) were not meeting each other and so were not being ground down through the actions of chewing.
Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously through life, around 2.5mm each week! This means they can nibble away on their favourite high fibre foods like hay and grass for many years, constantly replacing the wear this does to their chompers.
Without help, Maya’s teeth were bound to keep on growing, curling into her sensitive mouth and causing her pain. We trimmed her teeth short to give her relief while her mum and our Vets came up with a plan of attack. In rare cases, trimming the incisors can help the teeth find their way to proper occlusion, but unfortunately for Maya this was not to be. Her teeth came back just as unruly.
The options for Maya were regular incisor trims (every 4-6 weeks) or removal of these teeth. Maya’s mum opted for removal because this meant only one operation, reducing longer term stress on both owner and Maya.
Maya spent a day in hospital with us for the operation. First we took x-rays to check that all the other teeth were normal and to help us plan our surgery. The x-rays gave us good news on the back teeth and confirmed an interesting thing that we had noted on Maya; there were no peg teeth!
Peg teeth are little incisors that sit right behind the top front teeth, and are a unique feature to the Lagomorpha family (this is one of the special features that separates rabbits from rodents).
Maya’s front teeth came out like a dream, while she felt nothing under anaesthesia and with injections of pain relief to numb the teeth. She was sent home that same night.
Maya is a happy and healthy bunny. She can still eat wellwithout her front incisors, she just needs someone to trim grass for her as the incisors are usually used for ‘picking’ blades and the back teeth do the rest of the work.