Alpaca are members of the South American Camelid family. The llama, guanaco and vicuna are close relatives as well as the Dromedary and Bactrian camels. They are ruminants, which means they have multiple stomachs and chew their cud. They are extremely efficient at digesting their food and their soft, two toed feet are gentle on the earth. Their water requirements are low, drinking between just 2 and 5 liters of water daily, depending on the season.
Alpaca are pregnant for an average of 340 days and almost never have twins. Babies are called cria and they stay with mom for about 6 months. We are often asked “do they spit?” Usually they spit at each other during disputes about food or the perfect spot to sit, although if they are antagonized they will deliver a smelly shower of stomach contents as a deterrent. They also have a powerful kick which they employ as a defense. Alpaca manure is a “cold” natural fertilizer and we use this valuable resource directly from the dung pile into our garden and vegetable patch. Even in its fresh form, it does not burn the plants.
Our alpaca are vaccinated every year for the diseases which commonly affect the sheep in our area. They all have names as well as the customary ear tag number, and are gentle interesting creatures, each with a unique personality.
Alpaca are intelligent animals that are reasonably easy to halter train, particularly if they start their schooling when young. They can become extremely tame and friendly and make wonderful pets.