Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit 4


At the vet...again

Owner’s blog:

If  you’re getting tired of these posts about Garibaldi Rous’ trips to the vet, you can just imagine how we feel. I hate taking him because it is so stressful for him. The good news is, this may be the last such post for a little while.

It has been just under six weeks since Garibaldi last went to the vet to get his teeth trimmed. That trimming was still pretty major, with a big chunk of the bad tooth having to be filed off. Also, he lost part of one of his upper molars. But by the end of the visit, all of his teeth were trimmed down and in good shape. This visit was earlier than we would have liked but Rick and I both have trips coming up and we didn’t want Gari to have a tooth emergency when we weren’t both around.

Harpooning a capybara

With the frequency of our visits, we’re getting a method down for dealing with Gari and his teeth. One of the most stressful parts is giving him his initial shot of anesthetic. We’ve tried various methods and harpooning seems to be the best for Gari. He will not sit still if he thinks a shot is coming and, even with someone restraining him, he has leaped forward and injured his nose or knocked into people and equipment when the shot is delivered by hand.

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Getting a shot

This works pretty well, I’m not sure he even associates the vet with the jab to his butt. It does look like it hurts quite a lot though.

Bleeding from the shot

This was the first time he bled from getting the shot. It seemed like a clean hit into muscle but the harpoon is not exact.


Some blood got onto the mat and I noticed it looked very strange, not like blood at all. I showed this to Dr. Hoppes and her only explanation was that the blood interacted with the anesthetic in some way that caused it to clot super fast. I’m not personally convinced. Capybaras are unique in so many ways, I wonder if their blood just clots weirdly. When Gari ripped off the pad of his paw, that hardly bled at all.

Tooth exam

The tooth exam and filing went very well. Dr. Hoppes said the bad tooth had hardly grown at all. The broken molar is growing back nicely. All of his teeth were examined and filed if needed to be sure he didn’t have any new points. Then he was done. This is the best news we’ve had since this whole thing started. It looks like Gari won’t need to go back for another three months! We’ll be watching him closely for any signs of distress. Keep your fingers and paws crossed!

Of course there is bad news to go with the good. Dr. Hoppes had a chance to compare Gari’s dental x-rays with that of another capybara and there are significant differences. The bones of Gari’s head, including those around his teeth, are much less dense than those of the other capy. Apparently, this is what is causing his tooth problems. His bones are just not dense enough to hold his teeth in place. This is probably because of his lack of exposure to sunlight and poor diet before I got him. We’re going to see what we can do to increase his bone density but he is an adult capybara now and this is not a period for normal bone growth.

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I’m including this video to show what it is like after we get Gari home. It takes him a long time, days, to recover from the effects of the anesthesia. I’m not sure how much of his lack of flexibility and motor control is due to pain and how much is due to the drug. Either way, he is miserable. Luckily, with this short visit, he recovered much more quickly and today, three days after the procedure, he is almost back to normal.

21 comments to Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit 4

  • Sheldon

    Poor Gari! But still great news about not having to go back for another 3 months. I have to say it’s horrible how Gari’s life is forever messed up because of his previous owner’s lack of education and common sense.

  • francine

    Poor little guy! I am so glad you’re able to help him.

  • Bev

    Maybe capy blood is designed to clot faster or weirdly because they spend so much time in water.

  • Valentina

    Feel better sweetie <3 <3 <3

  • Alex

    I just keep my fingers crossed. I think I know how you feel about the poor guy, and we all know how much you have done for him so that he can be a normal capybara.

  • Angie

    I’m not sure what his story was before he came to be with you. It sounds as if it was dreadful, with inadequate food. I just keep thinking about how lucky he is to have found you, and how smart you are to have found the doctors who can treat him. Way to go, Melly!

  • rosenatti


    I want to clobber his former owners. Hard.

  • Kreeping Kitti

    The formative stages of any animal is so important to the quality of the rest of their lives. I want to clobber his former carers too 🙁

  • I’m glad you are feeling better, Gari! That’s good news that your teeth are better! I wish I could donate some bone to you. I can be kind of a bonehead, so I think I have more than enough.

  • Julianna

    Feel better Gari … sad to see you (and your family) go through this 🙁

  • ratfancy

    I had a friend once who grew up in West Virginia. They had milk but sent it all to market, and the children didn’t get to drink it. This woman had the same poor bone density and terrible teeth due to very poor diet. I can’t imagine being that poor, or a parent denying their children a proper diet. So sad for any animal or human. And nowadays with children having to stay in due to neighborhood violence, or laziness in front of the computer, it appears many children are borderline deficient in Vitamin D. Education and motivation is so key to good health (can you tell my B.S. is in nutrition?). I hope there are strides in understanding the capybara dietary requirements so that all capys out of their natural environment will have a chance to grow properly and be healthy. Thank you Melanie for working so hard to educate capybara lovers in their proper care!

  • Yigal Balta

    It seems reasonable to take vitamin D (some 4000 units a day with a non-sweet yogurt as a source of calcium). Green vegetables contain calcium, too, but yogurt may serve as a carrier for vitamin D preparations (oily drops). Another question is whether the treatment with bi-phosphonates, Alendronate or Risendronate (like for human osteoporosis) is indicated. Probably, nobody knows.

  • Laurie Coppola

    Poor Gari getting harpooned. He’s so obviously scared and in pain. Wish there were a better way to deliver shots to animals and humans! Is it possible to use a version of osteoporosis med on him, to build the bone density? I don’t know what’s in those drugs, or if any is capy compatible. Glad to see you back in your pool so soon, though wish you didn’t have lasting effects from the meds! Really glad the teeth seem to be under control 🙂

  • Lisa

    unfortunately i think poor Gari is a shining example of why people should think LONG AND HARD and have the proper resources before getting a capy. so glad he found you guys. hopefully he will be on the mend soon and tooth filings will become longer and longer apart xoxo.

  • Janet Lutkus

    It’s heartbreaking to watch Gari trying to swim with the after effects of anesthesia. But I know that will pass. More heartbreaking is the news about bone density. Perhaps there are some solutions like we use in the human world for osteoperosis. As Lisa said, capys are not a pet for everyone. Thank you Melanie for doing such a wonderful job, educating all of us about the capybara. Glad to hear Gari’s teeth are doing better and he survived his “harpooning” — although I know it’s hard to see your baby go through that. All my best to all of you. Keep strong!


  • Rawil

    Dear Gari,

    Wish you to recover soon! You are such a nice capybara! After reading your blog I became a fan of giant hamsters, too (previously I had only syrian pet hamsters). Hope one day we will have a capy in Kazan, Tatarstan.

  • Oh poor Gari, vet visits are so stressful & painful, I really hope you don’t have to go back for awhile. Would taking calcium or eating foods high in calcium help make his bones stronger?
    Feel better soon, Gari. My piggy Dora & i send healing hugs.

  • BettyMc

    Sorry Gary had to go through the procedure again. Gary is such a good capyboy. Looks like being in the pool was soothing — maybe easier to move in. I will pray for more sunshine for Gary. I had osteopenia for 2 years and had a once/yr Reclast injection and no longer have it. I wonder if they give this to any animals…

  • Bonnie Vollbeer

    Wow. Some of this was tough to read. Seeing the results of Gari being “harpooned” made me understand how difficult it must be to anesthetise him in the most safe, efficient manner. However, I am pleased to hear that his next visit is a ways off. Hopefully, something can be done about his bone density. I belive the good people at A & M’s Vet School will certainly try! This has been such a learning experience for everyone. Thank you for sharing the joys…and trials…of capybara ownership.

  • Kathryn

    Just think of the future you saved Gari from by adopting him into your home. By reading his blog, we all get a small glimpse into the joys and struggles of owning an exotic animal. The bottom line is that you saved a wonderful guy from a life with no sun, improper food, no access to a place to swim and run free. You saved him from a doomed future. You and Rick have given him all of these things and more…especially the love and support he needs to thrive and enjoy life. Thank you!

  • […] is Sick: Vet Visit 2 2013/02/03: Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit 3 2013/03/14: Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit 4 2013/06/07: Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit 5 2013/09/27: Garibaldi is Sick: Vet Visit […]

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