ALPACAS FOR BETTER OR BEST by Brad Hammersley, Member-at-Large IAA

July 26, 2017 2:05 PM | Richard & Andrea Hammersley (Administrator)

So you have decided you are going to purchase your first alpaca(s).  But which one or ones do you get, intact males or females only, an intact male and a female, gelded males only, or gelded male and female? Maybe you are thinking of a single male or female might work with your set up.  But which choices are best and which ones could cause actual harm to your new found friend(s).

Alpacas are camelids and as such have a very strong herd instinct.  For this reason, keeping a single alpaca alone is not the best option.  Solitary life for an alpaca is much the same as solitary confinement for human prisoners.  After a period of time, the mental health of an alpaca can be severely damaged and there have been been reports of death caused by loneliness.   If you cannot afford two same sex alpacas at the time of purchase, consider saving enough money so you can buy at least two.   Llamas can make good companion animals depending on the sex and temperament of the animals to be paired together.  This topic goes beyond the scope of this article and may be addressed at another time.  It is generally accepted that horses do not make great companions simply because they can easily injure an alpaca.  Regarding miniature donkeys, the jury is still out.

But by far, the best companion for an alpaca is another alpaca.  Keeping all males (intact or gelded) or all females is the best option if you are starting out.  But what about a breeding pair or a gelded male and female ?  These are not the best options either.  Even a gelded male will try to mount and penetrate the female at every opportunity causing possible reproductive tract overexposure, trauma, and infection.   If the female conceives, in the event of an intact male paired with a female, there is a gestation period of 11-12 months during which time she will not be receptive.  The male will still try to breed the female causing considerable stress as she resists his advances.  You may then have to separate them causing the above mentioned problems.

It is my hope that you continue to supplement your knowledge with books, articles, and relationships with your state alpaca association.

May all your days be alpaca-ed with joy.

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