Malocclusion in an African rodent. Is it necessarily fatal?



The greater cane rat, Thryonomys swinderianus, is the second largest rodent in the southern African subregion; only the porcupine is larger. The incisors are very large and curved and their gnawing action against each other gives them chisel edges. The common belief that a broken incisor may lead to severe stress or even death because growth of the corresponding incisor, in the opposing jaw, cannot be controlled by wearing away, is not necessarily true for all rodents. At least in the greater cane rat malocclusion does not necessarily lead to the incisors entering the skull or any obvious signs of stress or suffering.