Alpacas: Q-T


Alpacas need to be shorn once per year. It is extremely stressful for an alpaca to carry a full fleece through summer when it should have been shorn. The only exeptions are older alpacas as their fleece generally grows more slowly. 

The safest way to shear an alpaca is rolled onto its side with its feet secured by ropes at the front and at the back. The animal is then shorn on one side and rolled to shear the other side. Alpacas do not like to be tied down like this. However shearing is safest to both the animal and the shearer when the animal is securely tied down, and the whole job only takes about 5 minutes before the animal is released again.  


Alpaca are very hardy animals. They cope well with extremes of heat and cold. They do need shelter from sun and from the combination of cold wind and rain. A good shelter belt of trees or single large paddock tree is important. If you do not have trees, you could make a shelter shed available to animals. 


Yes, alpacas spit - but generally they only spit at each other. Alpacas will spit at each other for a number of reasons. A more dominant animal will spit at a less dominant animal to get at the good food you bring. A very new mother may spit at other animals to protect her newborn until it is on its feet and feeding successfully. See also 'Spit Off'.

Alpacas spit as a defence mechanism, so if they do not feel threatened, they do not spit. The more you handle your alpacas, the more quickly they trust you, so they don't feel the need to spit at you at all.

Spit Off

You know a female alpaca is pregnant if she spits at an amorous male. Thus pregnancy testing is called ‘spit-off’. 


See 'Getting Started'.


There are two types of alpacas - Huacaya and Suri. The two types are only look different  because they have different types of fleece. Apart from this, the two types are the same. 

Huacaya, pronounced wa-kye-ya, have fleece that grows out from the sides of the body like sheep. Suri, pronounced 'soo-ri', have fleece that falls in long locks down the sides of the body. 


Alpacas have soft feet with two toes on each foot - just like dogs. Alpaca toenails may wear down naturally if they have plenty of rocky ground to walk on. However in most grassy pastures this does not occur.

Once per year the toenails need to be checked and cut. Some alpacas, especially white ones, need a twice yearly check and cut. A good time to cut toenails is at shearing when the alpaca has been tied down. Check with your shearer as he (or she) may do this for you.


Alpacas are easy to move around. They normally cush (sit down) when a vehicle is moving. They can travel safely in a float or van, or for short distances in a trailor with sides covered by a tightly tied down tarpaulin. Alpacas will be happiest in the company of other alpacas. 


Alpacas so rarely have twins that you could say it 'never' happens!


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