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Alpaca Characteristics

Alpacas share many traits while displaying individual qualities

Alpacas are curious and alert

Introduce a new alpaca to the herd, perhaps a newborn cria, and the greeting committee forms. Amid sniffs, nuzzling, and clucking, the newcomer is welcomed. Anything new, different, or unusual is sure to attract an alpaca's attention. A strange dog or other perceived danger observed outside the fence will set off an alarm. A dominant alpaca will give out a loud bugling sound and immediately all others will gather closely together. 

Alpacas are intelligent and trainable

Alpacas learn quickly and are highly trainable. They recognize people and most adapt to new situations easily. This allows handlers to halter train them at weaning, which takes patience but is rewarding for both alpaca and handler. When halter-trained, the alpaca can be led easily from one place to another; for example, when entering an alpaca trailer for transport, entering the show ring with other alpacas, or moving from one farm location to another for any purpose. Shake a can with grain inside and alpacas come running! This is a great way to get them into the barn when needed or simply to hand out a small treat to the herd. 

Alpacas are friendly

Many alpacas will saunter up to the fence to greet visitors. Part of this stems from their natural curiosity about their surroundings. In the pasture, they will surround owners and visitors in hopes of a treat like a few pieces of grain or a carrot. Guests on the farm are cautioned to walk slowly and talk quietly when approaching alpacas to avoid startling them. 

Alpacas are agile and graceful

Alpacas move with a grace that is mesmerizing to watch. Young alpacas delight in pronking across the pasture at dusk in a most delightful show of exuberance. Pronking can best be described as moving through the air in a series of gazelle-like leaps where all four legs leave the ground simultaneously. Older alpacas will sometimes join in the fun, providing an amazing and enjoyable sight as they weave in and out of the barn, the hay feeders, and along fence lines in a follow-the-leader formation. 

Alpacas like routine

Alpacas, like cats, love routine. They come to expect certain events to happen at a certain time on a regular basis. For example, nursing moms at Golden Pine Alpacas know to wait in the barn early mornings for a special offering of alfalfa or grain before venturing out into the pasture. Similarly, the "big boys" get some grain in their grain buckets after all the morning barn-cleaning chores are done. The boys wait patiently at the closed barn doors until invited in. 

Alpacas are calm

As alpacas grow out of the frisky cria stage, they begin to exhibit a remarkable calmness in their demeanor. They tolerate people moving closely among them – as long as the people also behave in a calm manner! A comment often heard from visitors is "How relaxing it is to spend time with these alpacas!" For that reason, we provide seating both in and outside the pastures for our visitors – and us – to just sit and feel the pressures of the day subside. Alpacas often will come up to meet and greet before resuming their normal activities. 

How Alpacas Differ

Alpacas have personalities

Alpacas, like people, have distinct personalities. Some are followers and some are leaders. For example, our oldest girl Angie, from day-one on our farm designated herself as pasture boss. She keeps the younger – especially juvenile male alpacas – in line and is the one who occasionally puts out the distinctive bugling alarm should she observe something not to her liking. The alarm brings the herd together until she determines all is safe. Many alpacas are quite affectionate and will nuzzle your cheek and allow you to pat their topknots. Others are more reserved, standing a safe distance back and observing you with their big, soft eyes. 

Alpacas have recognizable faces

Alpacas are easily distinguished from one another, each having a recognizable face and general appearance. Some have heads and cheeks heavily covered with fleece, looking like a fuzzy ball. Others may sport topknots with stylish spikes angling out in all directions. Some have short noses, some long.

Alpaca sounds are unique 

Voices of the alpacas are a big part of their charm. They hum. Each one has a different-sounding hum. Without looking, we can tell Paladin from Cowboy and Rainman from Donovan. Danielle and her brother Mackenzie have a crying sound when they want something. Get all alpacas together – at shearing time, for example – and all hums blend together to form a chorus complete with basses, tenors, and sopranos. 

Updated July 21, 2016