Alpacas as Pets
Alpacas provide the best of both worlds by bridging the gap between pets and livestock
Smart Farmer, December 2010
Do Alpacas make good pets?
As alpaca breeeders, this is one of the questions that we get asked most regularly. It’s an easy one to answer - Alpacas are intelligent, naturally inquisitive and gentle-natured. As a result they can make excellent pets for families with a plot of land to keep them on. But it is important to remember that an alpaca is primarily a stock animal, it’s rare (although far from unique) to find one that wants to cuddle up on your lap in the same way that a dog or a cat would.
Can they be trained?
Not to sit, stay and roll over, but they will walk well on a lead and most can be trained to hand feed and even to come when called
But don’t they spit?
Some do, some don’t. This is a bit like asking whether dogs bite or people swear. Alpacas are, unless threatened, gentle and passive. Spitting is their first line of defence to protect themselves, their young, their herd and, sometimes, their lunch. Each alpaca will respond according to their own personality; some will spit if they feel threatened, some never spit at all and a tiny minority will spit at the slightest provocation.
How much land do I need to keep an alpaca?
First, you can’t keep an alpaca. Alpacas are herd animals, they need company and most will not thrive on their own. Stock rates depend on the pasture available but around the hills, where there is usually plently to eat, between three and six alpacas to the acre is usually quite comfortable.
How much care do they need?
This is one of their greatest appeals - very little when compared to other livestock. Shearing once per year (can be every two years for Suris), a toenail trim every so often and a little preventative medication. Most of this can be done at shearing time.
OK, We want alpacas, what do we do now?
We'd love you to talk to us... But, most importantly, find a registered breeder and talk to them. A breeder will be used to providing alpacas as pets and will be able to give you all the help and advice that you need.