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Tigger is a 7 year old female prairie dog and was brought to Alta Vista by Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center (a nonprofit rescue organization). Tigger has a history of malocclusion with her incisors, which is also known as an abnormal bite with her front teeth. Being an herbivore; like rabbits and guinea pigs, Tigger’s back teeth continuously grow and are kept short by the high fiber diet (timothy hay, grass, etc) they consume as well as proper incisor alignment.
Tigger presented for a possible molar abscess as her caretakers had noted a mild swelling to her left jaw and decreased intake of food. On her physical exam, it was noted that her left upper incisor was turned inwards and very long, while her right upper incisor was broken at the gum line.
We discussed anesthetizing Tigger and taking x-rays of her teeth as well as examining the back molars (we are unable to look at rodent molars when the patient is awake because their jawbones are long which places the teeth too far to observe easily). After a couple days of hospitalization and syringe feeding Tigger felt much better so we cut back the overgrown tooth and she went home after we determined she was eating adequately.
While it is fun to take care of exotic pets some do not make good house pets-Tigger is a good example of this. She requires a large amount of digging material (they live in tunnels and burrows in the wild) and can have dental problems to improper diet. Prairie dogs are also known to be a reservoir of plague-a disease that can be life threatening to humans.