Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. But did you know their teeth never stop growing? This unique characteristic makes their constant chewing necessary.
Capybaras have 20 teeth in total. They are strong, razor-sharp, and always growing. Sometimes, they even fall out but grow back quickly. Chewing coarse food and materials helps them manage their teeth growth, especially for captive ones.
These friendly giants are exotic pets. They are loved by both people and other animals. Their teeth adapt to thrive in their semi-aquatic environment.
What Kind of Teeth Do Capybaras Have?
Capybaras are rodents known for their unique teeth, including long incisors that continually grow. These creatures don’t have canines. They have a diastema—a gap commonly found in mammals—between their incisors and molars. Premolars and molars can also be found in capybaras.
Much like humans trim their nails, capybaras must maintain their incisors. This can grow longer than 3 inches if unchecked, resulting in dental issues. Rodents are associated with the term “gnaw,” which reflects their nonstop chewing.
Capybaras spend most of their day chewing food thoroughly. Thanks in part to their cheek teeth’s unique occlusal morphology. This means the way they grind food evolves over time. In fact, new terms were developed to describe their distinct teeth.
How Many Teeth Do Capybaras Have?
Capybaras have 20 teeth in total. They have four sharp incisors for gnawing wood and plants. Next, they have four premolars: two on the upper jaw and two on the lower. After that, there are 12 molars in three pairs up and down. Premolars and molars are called cheek teeth.
The capybara dental formula is: Incisors 1/1; Canines 0/0; Premolars 1/1; Molars 3/3 = 20. They are herbivores eating grass, aquatic plants, bark, and roots. They don’t need canines for tearing animal flesh. Their lack of canines helps them chew plants better.
What Do Capybaras Use Their Teeth For?
Capybaras use their teeth for eating. Their incisors precisely cut plant-based food, making it easier to chew. Foods like grass, bark, and aquatic plants are prepared this way.
Once cut, food moves to the back of their mouth. Here, cheek teeth crush and grind it into smaller bits for easier digestion. The incisors and cheek teeth work together to ensure capybaras efficiently consume their plant-based meals.
Why Do Capybaras Keep on Chewing?
Capybaras have incisors that grow throughout their lives. To keep them maintained, they continually grind them. Their grinding targets include tubers, sugar cane, bark, tough grasses, and aquatic plants.
They can even chew stones, showcasing the strength of their teeth. If incisors grow too long (over 8 centimeters), it can disrupt their eating process, leading to malnutrition.
Capybaras don’t have canines. So they rely on incisors for cutting, premolars for tearing, and molars for grinding food. A scissor-like action occurs when they eat. This helps them efficiently consume their plant-based meals, especially during scarce food seasons.
How Strong Are Capybara Teeth?
Capybara teeth are impressively strong, even tougher than mice and rats. While rats chew through metal or plastic, capybaras can grind stones.
To prevent overgrowth, capybaras constantly sharpen their teeth. They achieve this by grinding them against each other, similar to sharpening a knife. This friction creates short, chisel-sharp incisors.
Their incisors’ front has hard enamel, while the back has soft dentine. This design ensures a sharp, bevel-shaped cutting edge. Capybara teeth wear naturally by consuming hard foods and gnawing.
Strong teeth are essential for capybaras to handle tough materials. Like other rodents, they maintain open roots on their incisors to keep them growing and compensate for wear.
Capybaras have razor-sharp teeth, which they keep in check through a self-sharpening process. They also possess enlarged chewing muscles, enabling efficient vertical, forward, and backward jaw movements.
Capybara‘s Teeth Never Stop Growing
Capybaras are huge rodents who constantly gnaw. In Latin, “rodent” means “to gnaw”. With teeth that never stop growing, capybaras must chew regularly. Just imagine if your teeth kept growing!
Capybara teeth can measure over 8 centimeters or 3 inches. Overgrown teeth can lead to starvation, as they can’t eat properly. Sometimes, capybaras lose their incisors, but they grow back fast, often within days.
Pet capybara owners may accumulate their pet’s fallen teeth. So, if you fancy crafting a tooth necklace, consider getting a capybara……joking!
Do Capybaras Bite?
Capybaras are friendly to humans and other wild animals. They’re usually shy and obedient. However, they can bite if threatened or provoked. With strong jaw muscles and sharp teeth, their bites can be painful and carry diseases like leptospirosis.
To avoid bites, learn your capybara’s temperament. Steer clear during mealtimes and sleep, when they feel vulnerable. Don’t go too close to baby capybaras if their mother is near. Keep a distance from adult males during mating season.
Recognizing a threatened capybara helps prevent bites. For example, a scared capybara might turn its head away. They also carry leptospirosis, so exercise caution.
In short, while capybaras aren’t naturally aggressive, they might bite in self-defense. By respecting their space and understanding their behavior, you can minimize the risk of bites.
Capybara Dental care
Capybara dental care is essential for their overall health. To keep their teeth healthy, keep in mind these steps:
A balanced diet is vital. Offer high-quality grass hay, fresh vegetables, and limited fruits. Proper forage helps wear down their growing teeth.
Schedule regular vet check-ups. Examinations identify dental issues, like overgrowth or diseases, and determine appropriate treatment.
Capybara teeth never stop growing. Provide chew toys or branches for natural wear. Materials should be safe and promote dental health.
Dental hygiene is important, too. Maintain a clean environment and offer fresh water. Prevent bacteria build-up and potential dental problems.
Observe capybaras’ eating habits. If they drool, lose appetite, or show pain, consult a vet. Address any dental issues as soon as possible.
In some cases, professional dental care is required. This includes filing teeth, tooth extraction, or treating dental diseases. Trust experienced vets for proper treatment and the capybara’s comfort.
Extinct Capybara Fossil Tooth & Incisor
One of the largest rodent species ever to have lived is Neochoerus pinckneyi. Fossils of this mighty creature were found in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and Central America.
The giant capybara was twice the size of today’s capybaras. These semi-aquatic mammals, which lived around 1.8 million years ago, thrived in warm-climate environments near water. They fed on aquatic plants, which their modern, smaller descendants continue to do.
Capybaras are now the largest living rodents in South America. They’re excellent swimmers and live in groups. A fascinating relic of these ancient creatures is a set of preserved fossil teeth. The teeth are notable for their remarkable detail and size. Their molars measure 0.72 x 1.11 x 0.57 inches and their incisors measure 0.44 x 1.42 x 0.34 inches.