You may notice your furry friend has a habit of gnawing and chewing on anything they can get their paws on. This is a perfectly natural instinct for rabbits, as they need to keep chewing for their health. You may be wondering as you see your rabbit constantly chewing if they can chew too far. This leads to questions about the nerves in a rabbit’s teeth, and whether they exist or not.
So, do rabbits have nerves in their teeth?
Yes, rabbits do have nerves in their teeth. The nerves in a rabbit’s teeth stop just below the gum line. This gives rabbits plenty of freedom to wear their teeth down as needed.
I will be discussing the structure of a rabbit’s teeth, as well as the importance of keeping them trimmed down. Lastly, I will be suggesting ways to keep teeth trimmed down.
What Does the Structure of a Rabbit’s Teeth Look Like?
While We Learned that Rabbits Do Have Nerves in Their Teeth, We Want to Know What These Look Like, As Well as the Rest of the Rabbit Tooth. A Rabbit’s Teeth Will Continue to Grow for the Entirety of Their Life. They Also Have 28 Permanent Teeth.
A rabbit’s 28 permanent teeth consist of front teeth, as well as molars. The front teeth are called incisors. The incisors are typically the most noticeable teeth in a rabbit’s mouth.
There are two pairs of incisors in the top front of a rabbit’s month. The second pair is much smaller and located behind the front teeth. There is another pair of incisors located at the front of the lower jaw.
Rabbits do not have canine teeth in their mouth. However, they do have premolars and molars. These are called “cheek teeth.”
Herbivores, such as rabbits, have teeth that are long in shape, and continue to grow for their entire life. These are called hypsodont teeth. Other animals that have this type of teeth are guinea pigs and horses. This is common in vegetarian animals, as they graze on hay and grass to trim them down naturally.
Unlike the teeth of a human, rabbit teeth do not have any enamel on them. This enables the teeth to wear down fairly quickly to prevent overgrowth.
The constant wearing a rabbit needs to do in order to keep the teeth trimmed is not harmful to them. This is because the nerves in the teeth of a rabbit are located right below the gum line.
Why is it So Important to Keep a Rabbit’s Teeth from Overgrowing?
Since a Rabbit’s Teeth Will Grow for Their Entire Life, it is Important to Make Sure the Teeth Are Not Becoming Overgrown. Teeth That Are Overgrown Cause a Great Deal of Discomfort for the Rabbit. Overgrown Teeth Also Put Your Pet at Risk for Developing Negative Health Conditions.
You can usually tell the teeth are becoming overgrown by looking at the incisors. These are the easiest to notice length in. With molars, you may need a special tool called a “speculum” to see the length.
If your pet’s incisor teeth are starting to grow at a curve and stick out from between your rabbit’s lips, this is a sign they are getting too long. If they continue to grow and nothing is done, the teeth may get stuck on the cage bars.
Even worse, the teeth may begin to grow into the rabbit’s gums, or roof of the mouth. This is incredibly uncomfortable and painful for the rabbit.
When the molars have begun to grow too long, you may notice your rabbit drooling excessively, or hypersalivating. Rabbits who are suffering from excessive salivation may have moisture around their face often.
This excessive salivation may take the form of ptyalism, which is the chronic production of excessive saliva. This is often called “rabbit slobber,” or “the slobbers.”
If your pet is suffering from ptyalism, you may notice…
- The rabbit acting more lethargic than usual.
- Weight loss associated with a loss of appetite
- Nasal discharge or mucous
- Teeth grinding violently as a sign of pain
- Excess tear production
When the molars are overgrown your pet may have difficulty eating or swallowing, which may cause a loss of appetite, or anorexia in your pet.
Having a condition that prevents the rabbit from being able to chew also poses the risk of gastrointestinal stasis, or GI stasis. This is when a blockage occurs in the digestive system of a rabbit. This is caused from a lack of fiber being consumed, which will naturally happen if your pet is unable to chew their hay or other fiber-rich foods.
This condition can potentially be deadly.
How Can You Prevent Your Rabbit’s Teeth from Becoming Overgrown?
In Order to Keep Your Rabbit’s Teeth from Experiencing Overgrowth, it is Important to Provide Plenty of Materials for Chewing. Rabbits in the Wild Have Plenty of Materials Which They Can Use to Keep Their Teeth from Overgrowing, However, Domestic Rabbits May Have a Harder Time.
The most important item to keep stocked in your rabbit’s cage is hay for chewing. Stock up enough for your rabbit to chew all day.
If your rabbit is an adult, a grass hay will be the healthiest option for them. For growing rabbits, elderly rabbits, or other rabbits who need to put on some extra weight, alfalfa hay may be the better option.
Along with having plenty of fresh hay, there should be materials that are satisfying for your pet to chew. These can be natural, plain materials such as apple, willow, or pine branches, or even pine firewood. Untreated, fresh pine lumber would also be suitable.
You can also choose to buy toys that are designed for chewing. Great options for chewing toys for a rabbit include:
- Wicker balls
- Willow bridges
- Grass mats
- Apple chew sticks
Even if you are providing your rabbit all the right materials for chewing, you may find that over time their teeth are becoming overgrown. This is why it may be necessary to take your pet into your veterinarian for a teeth trim.
While you can trim your rabbit’s teeth at home with normal dog clippers, this is not recommended as you are risking cracking or splitting a tooth. This can be extremely painful for the rabbit if the crack extends up to the nerve.
Just to be safe, it is probably the wisest choice to have a veterinarian trim rabbit teeth. They have the materials and experience to make the process less stressful on your pet, as well as safe.
If overgrowth gets out of control, surgery may be required to correct the teeth.
Rabbits Do Have Nerves in Their Teeth. They are Located Just Below the Gumline. This Gives Rabbits the Freedom They Need to Chew Without Injuring Themselves by Hitting a Nerve. This is a Helpful Feature, as a Rabbit Needs to Chew to Keep Their Teeth Trimmed Down.
A rabbit’s teeth stay trimmed down by consistently chewing on safe objects. This means you are responsible for providing materials, or toys that will give them a way to chew as their owner.
Do not forget to keep plenty of hay stocked up in your rabbit’s cage, as this is essential for chewing.
If the teeth must be trimmed manually, it is wise to take them to your veterinarian, as trimming at home presents a risk for splitting a tooth.
This split will leave the rabbit’s tooth in a great deal of pain if it reaches the nerve, so do them a favor and try to keep their teeth from overgrowing.