About Alpacas

Alpaca Behavior

Alpacas are very herd-oriented and usually prefer the company of their own kind, but will do ok if other species are available to hang with. Within the herd, there is a hierarchy of dominant and less assertive animals. Once the female alpaca position is established in the herd, they rarely challenge this position. All they need to know is where they belong to be happy. Male alpacas, on the other hand, do challenge each other more often.

Alpacas are easy to handle because of their gentle nature. Once you overcome their fear and flight response you will find an animal that will come up to you and allow you to touch them. Alpacas are easy to halter and train if you spend the time. Rarely handled animals usually require some form of restraint for treatments, which can usually be accomplished by one person holding the animal. Unlike their North American livestock equivalents, adult male alpacas are typically less aggressive among themselves and with humans. Most can be kept together in non-breeding or breeding situations. The closer the female alpacas the higher the fighting will be, but this is usually harmless, a little neck wrestling, chest butting and biting. The biting is usually harmless unless they still have their fighting teeth then you will get ear tears mostly, but occasionally you will find cuts on legs and neck. 

Alpacas are intelligent and clean. With their three stomachs, they are grazers and very economical to feed. They require only good grass hay and a mineral supplement. Their pellets are practically odorless (much like a rabbit) and low in nitrogen. The easily cleaned manure can be mulched and used as excellent fertilizer. Alpacas communicate with a variety of mostly quiet noises, body postures and an occasional spit when confronted by extreme adversity. Their most common sound is humming, unfortunately, this usually mean they want something or unhappy about where they are (want in, want out). Most people believe this is a happy sound. A happy alpaca is a quit one. They sound off an alarm call to signal the approach of an intruder. Alpacas also have a cluck sound that is primarily used to communicate with their newborn babies. Alpacas also have readily understood body language as they posture with ears, tail and neck primarily to establish a pecking order in the herd. Young alpacas are especially curious and often communicate by sniffing and touching other animals.  

Alpacas love water, using it as a cooling device in warm weather. Most enjoy ponds, pools and sprinklers. Alpacas should be discouraged from lying in water for extended periods of time. While extended exposure to water can cause fiber loss on the alpaca's legs and underside, periodic hosing in hot summer weather is beneficial and provides immediately cooling to the animals. This is fun not only for the alpacas but for the handlers, as well. That alpaca that you could not get near suddenly becomes your best friend; you can even rub their belly.