Alpacas are gentle, curious, intelligent and observant creatures. But because of an unfortunate history of becoming tasty dinners for predators in their original wild habitat of South America, they are naturally cautious and easily startled.
Alpacas belong to the family of camelids which includes, yes camels, but also vicunas, llamas and guanacos. These quiet, peaceful animals are low-maintenance and require only the simple pleasures of clean water, good hay or pasture and a daily scoop of grain feed. That’s it. No lofty expectations of being entertained, no running to their humans, tails wagging, anticipating joyous reunions. Just feed me and water me and I’ll grow luxurious fiber and make pretty babies. They’re even courteous enough to relieve themselves in communal dung piles making it easy to clean up after them. Time saved wandering around your property looking for land mines of poo can be used for more enjoyable tasks. How wonderfully civilized.
And noisy? Not this elegant animal. Their go-to form of communication is humming which is soft and even melodic. A variety of emotions is expressed by humming—from curiosity to contentment and from boredom to worry. Only when an alpaca is really agitated or feels threatened will it start braying like a donkey. Run far, run fast, spit may happen. Yes, they do spit. But not all of them and not for the fun of it. Purely to warn or protect. Otherwise, their default mode is laid-back and gentle.
Best of all, alpacas are environmentally friendly. They weigh less than sheep so they don’t tear up or compress pastures. Their two toes and foot pads are also easier on the land compared to sheep or goats which have hooves that can destroy the grass and cause erosion of the soil. Additionally, because alpacas have bottom front teeth and an upper palate they graze without ripping plants out by the roots. All of these attributes means the land remains intact and plants and grasses regenerate. Conversely, other grazing animals can cause serious damage to the land and cause it to go barren.
Alpacas are beautiful, peaceful, environmentally friendly tenants that offer up outstanding fleece to help pay their way. Can there be a better animal to share your land with?