Aging a camel from its teeth

Teeth of the camel

Incisors

It’s best to look first at the incisors. Most ruminants have lost the incisors in the upper jaw while retaining a row of six incisors (2 centrals, 2 laterals and 2 corners) in the lower jaw. Camels however are exceptional in keeping their corner incisors in the upper jaw. These have developed into fang like teeth and might be mistaken for an extra set of canines.

The milk teeth are small and have a distinct neck towards their base near the gum. After 2 or 3 years these are looking worn and are separating. By 4 years they are reduced to stumps and have become very loose.

The first permanent incisors are the lower central ones, and they appear behind the milk teeth in the 4th year, the lower laterals appear in the 5th year and the lower corners and upper incisors in the 6th year.

Fangs

These are formed from the canines, incisors and premolars.

In the milk teeth of the upper jaw, the corner incisors and canines produce two set of small fangs, while in the lower jaw, the canines project up as small fangs.

These however are all replaced by much more prominent fangs in the 6th year and the addition of an extra pairs of fangs in the upper and lower jaws with the eruption of the most forward permanent premolars.

In the 6th year, you should therefore be able to see three sets of fangs in the upper jaw and two sets in the lower jaw.

By the 7th year, the upper canines should be over 4 cm long!

It must be pointed out that it’s rare amongst ruminants to have any fangs. Most ruminants, such as cows and goats, have lost their canines.

Premolars

The milk teeth are a modest set of three pairs of crunchers on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw.

These are lost in the 5th year to be replaced with a new set in the 6th, but this time the most forward of the premolars have been transformed into fangs.

Molars

These can only be seen if the camel opens its mouth really wide! They are only adult teeth but they start appearing quite early. The most forward molars appear in the 2nd year, followed by the next set in the 3rd year. The final set doesn’t appear until the 6th year.

By the 6th year, the camel has its full complement of adult teeth. Progressive wear then sets in at a rate related to the food consumed and its content of abrasives. Definite separation of the permanent incisors usually commences after about 15 years. The camel can live for 40 years but only if soft fodder can be supplied late in its life

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