Dental Surgery On a Rabbit!

Reader Contribution by Kyle Chandler-Isacksen
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We recently obtained a new doe from some friends of ours in town to replace one of ours that died.  She’s a super friendly “American Blue”.   Americans are considered a “threatened” heritage breed up from “critical” from just a few years ago.  There’s been a resurgence in their popularity in part because they are included in the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.  I also think it’s because they are just so darn sweet!

This Blue came to us at about 15 weeks old and almost immediately we noticed her teeth were all catawampus.  Crazy, that is.  So we named her, “Snaggletooth” and I kept an eye on her incisors over the following weeks.  Soon enough it was apparent that they were a big problem.  The poor girl was having issues chewing her food as her bottom incisors grew super long and one top one grew diagonally back and across her mouth and was turning upwards into the roof of her mouth.  Oy Gevalt!  What is the urban homesteader to do?

We did nothing for a while (maybe it would go away?) until Katy’s aunt, a vet, came by for a visit.  We showed her Snaggletooth and she nonchalantly said, “Oh, just take some wire cutters and clip them off.”  OK.  I had trouble imagining how I was going to place a large, sharp tool into the maw of a freaking out rabbit let alone snip away at its teeth.  She left before offering to do it herself (or maybe my homesteader pride prevented me from asking for help…?).

It took several more days of watching poor Snaggles struggle with her food to finally decide to grab the wire cutters and proceed with the dental surgery.  We brought her inside and remembered a friend telling us how to “hypnotize” or “trance” a rabbit.  Turns out, that if you recline a rabbit on its back until its head is just a bit below its hips the rabbit will become immobile and seemingly really relaxed.  It’s pretty hysterical to see a rabbit with its little front legs pointing straight up and its eyes glazed over.  I’ve since learned that this is a defense mechanism rabbits employ where they “play dead” hoping a predator will drop the rabbit whence it will pop up and hop madly away to save its life.  Thank God we remembered this trick, otherwise things could have gotten really ugly. 

With Snaggletooth “out” I carefully peeled back her lips (I guess?) and brought the snips to the first tooth.  She may have been out but I was certainly nervous.  With the wire cutters in position I snipped quickly and with barely a twitch from Snaggles the tooth was off and flying across the living room into a pile of Legos.   With bolstered confidence we tackled the next two with similar results.  Snaggletooth was fixed!  We brought her out of the anesthesia and in subsequent days she was eating much more easily.  We’re considering Urban Homesteader Dentistry for a cottage industry.

The surgery was about six weeks ago and in the last couple days I noticed her teeth getting snaggly again.  I’ve asked my secretary to schedule her for another visit in a couple weeks. 

PS:  Snaggletooth is a new mom as of yesterday!