Woody, one of Taronga’s Tasmanian Devils, has had a house call from a veterinary dentist to repair his teeth after some over-zealous feeding.
During a recent veterinary check, the five year old male was found to have cracked three of his teeth.
Australian Mammals supervisor, Nick de Vos, said the injury probably occurred while feeding since Devils can apply an immense amount of jaw pressure and they usually chew through very hard bones.
Nick said there are major cracks in three of Woody’s molars.
Although there would be a level of discomfort for Woody, the injury currently doesn’t appear to be causing any issue with the devil’s ability to eat.
Just the same, keepers are taking care to ensure large bones are not part of his diet at the moment. Woody will have a diet of soft foods over the next few days while his gums heal.
The cracked teeth were removed by the veterinary dentist, Dr. Nadine Fiani, who is from SASH (Small Animals Specialist Hospital at Ryde).
Woody was cared for by the Zoo’s team of veterinarians and veterinary nurses during the operation which is believed to the first time teeth have been extracted from a Tasmanian Devil.
Dr Fiani said without the operation, there was a risk abscesses would form, with fatal results for the devil.
After the operation today, the injured devil will need to remain in the Taronga Wildlife Hospital for monitoring. Now the teeth have been removed keepers and veterinarians will have a better idea about how long he will have to stay at the hospital
Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos are part of a national breeding program among over 15 zoos and wildlife parks to provide an insurance population as wild Tasmanian Devils are now endangered by the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease.