It is useful to know about some
of the funny thing alpacas do, as
we have found them to be quite different to other animals in some
of the ways they behave.
If you notice your healthy alpaca laying dead still, on his back,
all four feet in the air, don’t panic. He may just be sunbathing.
They do this often, especially in warm weather when a cool breeze
on the belly would feel nice for anyone. On some occasions your
alpaca will be so lost in his own little world that you can walk
right up to him before he will jump to his feet and run away.
You will occasionally see your alpacas bouncing
around the paddock, lifting all 4 feet off the ground at once
with their tails held high. Much like the cartoon character, Pepe Le Pew. This is called "stotting" or
in some countries, "pronking". Crias in particular
enjoy to stott and chase each other around, and adults will sometimes
join in the fun. This activity mostly happens at dusk and is
very enjoyable to watch.
When alpacas get upset they will "drop
their lip". The bottom lip will become all droopy and fall
away exposing the bottom teeth and gums. Some alpacas will take
pieces of hay, grass or leaves into their mouths and just hold
it there for extra effect. Saliva will sometimes drip from the
bottom lip as well. If all this sounds rather pathetic, it is.
They are sulking. Don't worry about it. They have probably just
come off second best in a disagreement with another alpaca and
they will get over it in a few minutes. (Often the sulking alpaca
will have a few globs of green spit on their face as evidence
of the disagreement!)
Alpacas love to roll. There will be spots
in the paddock which become bare patches over time and your alpacas
will line up to wait for their turn (except the bossy ones, that
is. They just barge right in!) If it's been raining, those bare
patches will be mud baths - they roll anyway!
It's Mine! All of it!
Alpacas don't like sharing their food, so
some of them will sit on the hay to stop the others from getting
it. If a handful of tasty food has already been offered to an
alpaca, it becomes second hand and no one else will want it.
If you are doing some planting, fixing a
fence or just messing about, it won't be too long before you
have an audience. Alpacas like to know what's going on and more
often than not they will all be there lined up along the fence
checking out your handi-work. Likewise if you leave an item in
the paddock when you're finished, a tool or piece of clothing,
each alpaca will ensure the item is thoroughly looked over, sniffed
and tasted before being delegated to their "boring items" list.
They will revisit the item every now and again in case it might
Alpacas like to keep cool when it's hot.
They will dance in a sprinkler or dunk their feet in a water
trough. If the water trough is big enough or if you have a dam
- they'll sit in it.
Alpacas have a unique language. When they
are moderately concerned about something they hum. Alpaca Mums
hum to their crias.
An alpaca who sees or senses danger will
"alarm call" which
is a loud, high pitched squeal sounding something like a cross
between a bird and a donkey! It is impossible to ignore. Male alpacas "orgle"
at females - They blow out their cheeks and sound like they're
Hit and Miss
Alpaca crias like to play rough and will
test their mums to the limit. A favourite game is to get as far
away from mum as possible, then turn and run straight back at
her at top speed. Mum's nice soft fleece is like a big pillow
for the cria to bounce into. The mums seem to tolerate this game
quite well. A cria who chooses the wrong mum to run into, however,
will receive a face full of bright green spit for his trouble.
Males like to check out the dung piles to
see if the females are pregnant. He will put his nose right into
the pile, inhale deeply, roll his eyes back and then throw his
head straight into the air arching his neck over his back. He
will do this several times, snort and then, depending on his
analysis he'll either go for the girls or just carry on grazing.
They're usually right too!