Digestive System > Pregastric Physiology

Dental Anatomy of Llamas

Llamas are herbivores that are native to the Andes mountains of South America. They are one of a group of New World camelids that also includes the alpaca, vicuna and guanaco. In recent years, there has been a tremendous expansion in llama populations in North America, where they are kept as pets, used as pack animals, and provide wool for specialty markets.

The digestive anatomy of llamas is similar to ruminants such as cattle and sheep, but the anatomy of their forestomachs differs somewhat from those animals, and they are often referred to as "modified" ruminants.

An interesting aspect of llama dentition is the presence of fighting teeth or fangs. These are modified canine and incisor teeth. There are two fighting teeth on the upper arcade and one on the lower. They erupt in males between 2 to 3 years of age, and in females at 4 to 5 years. Many veterinarians recommend removing the fighting teeth from males, because they can and do cause serious injuries to other males.

Dental Formulae
Deciduous 1 1 2 (3)
3 1 1 (2)
= 9 (11) Permanent 1 1 1 (2) 3
3 1 1 (2) 3
= 14 (16)
Tooth Eruption

Incisors2 - 4 years
Canine2 - 3.5 years
Premolars3.5 - 5 years
Molars6 months - 4 years

Maxillary Arcade

The incisor and canine shown are the upper fighting teeth.
Maxillary Arcade
(Lateral view)
Mandibular Arcade
Mandibular Arcade
Lateral view

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Author: Melissa Rouge

Send comments to Richard.Bowen@colostate.edu