Alpaca behaviour


Are alpacas dangerous?
Absolutely not! They are safe and pleasant to be around. They do not bite or butt, and they do not have the teeth, horns, hooves, or claws to do serious injury.

Are alpacas intelligent?
Yes, they are amazingly alert animals who quickly learn to halter and lead. They constantly communicate with each other through body posture, tail and ear movements, and a variety of sounds. The sound heard most often is a soft humming, a mild expression befitting a gentle animal.

Do alpacas spit?
Spitting is perhaps the least endearing feature of alpacas. It is one of the few defence mechanisms an alpaca has and is quite an effective deterrent. The material is basically regurgitated or recently chewed grass and it brushes off when dry. It does have a distinctive and somewhat offensive odour and it is best to avoid being a target.

However, it is quite rare that alpacas spit at people. It is normally used as a pecking order mechanism with other alpacas. If a human hit occurs, it is usually because the person has not read the signs properly when stepping between two squabbling alpacas.

Do alpacas kick and bite?
When interacting with humans, kicking and biting is highly individualistic. Alpacas are usually sensitive around the hind legs and will instinctively kick backwards if they sense a threat from the rear.

Most alpacas do not kick at humans, but there are individuals that can be quickly identified as being prone to kicking. This is more evident in a pregnant female that wants to deter the advances of an amorous male.

Fortunately, because the foot is a soft pad, injuries to humans are minimal. Most alpacas respond very well to desensitisation of the hind legs if they receive good handling as youngsters.

Alpacas that bite people are extremely rare and it is not a general problem. If it does occur it tends to be an attention seeking behaviour by spoilt pets rather than an attack. It is more like a nibble as alpacas, like most ruminants, have only one set of teeth and a hard pad.

Can I run alpacas with other livestock?
Alpacas can bond well with other types of animals. Naturally, alpacas and large aggressive dogs are not a good combination, but there are many cases of quiet dogs mixing well with alpacas.

Small numbers of alpacas have been very successfully run with sheep and goats to act as fox guards. The alpacas tend to bond with the foster herd and they are naturally aggressive toward foxes.

If running with different livestock, alpacas will pick up the internal parasites associated with the other animals and should be put on the same worming regime.

Because of the risk of the alpacas being kicked, caution should be used if running them with cattle or horses.