How to Make Friends with an Alpaca

Our Alpaca Introduction

As a couple of suburbanites who have had to learn about alpacas very quickly, we are quite pleased with the relationships we’ve forged with them. When we first met the six girls, they were a little skittish, seeming somewhat uncomfortable. Of course, we did not know if our assessment was correct. But, it seemed to be a sure bet.

First of all, they nervously; yet, adroitly, dodged our advancements and, at their safer distance, wouldn’t quite look at us. Though it was obvious they were very aware of us. Then, when the spit started flying, we were convinced. These girls needed to be coaxed. Though it was hard to tell if they were spitting at us or at each other.

You didn’t know these lovely creatures spit? Oh, yes. They most certainly spit. Usually as a fear defense. And, it’s pretty stinky.


First Things First

Hubby, a chef, devised a strategy with this question in mind: how do you make anyone like you? Give them something good to eat. Alpacas are no different. We have alfalfa pellets that we’ve dubbed ‘yum-yums.’ They’ll follow anyone to the ends of the earth for their yum-yums. We started by putting them in a bowl to entice them to come near. After a brief time, we held our hands out with these special treats in our palms. And, they gratefully partook.

Munching on yum-yums, and a little distracted, the girls allowed Jeff to start rubbing them. But, never on the face. Most alpacas don’t like to be rubbed on the face.

What next? Mingle with them, gently and unobtrusively – with food, of course. How to do this? The girls like to sleep together in their barn stall. When they file in from their paddock at the end of each day, they meander about, looking for their yum-yums. Jeff started to meander around with them – feeding them treats. They seemed very comfortable with their new friend. And now, we invite vacationing guests to come in and join the party. Everyone has a good time bumping into each other, feeding treats and eating treats. We call this party our ‘Alpaca Experience.’


The Extended Summertime Alpaca Experience

In the summertime, we expand the Alpaca Experience. We invite our Fly Creek travelers out into the paddock, where they hang out with the girls and where everyone gets a turn to hose them down. They love this more than anything. Some even jump up on their back legs and prance around! The most important and enjoyable area to douse is their belly. You see, alpacas have a thermal window on their belly, and that is where their sweat glands are. So, a cold spray is quite refreshing.

Because alpacas are herd animals, I think they think their herd has grown when we all hang out together. For the most part, they like to be fairly close to each other – even out in the paddock. So, don’t be surprised when they sidle up to you.


Alpaca Communication

The first thing we noticed when we met the alpacas was how quiet they were, for the most part. Then, as we became more sensitive to them, we noticed a variety of sounds, with humming being the most prevalent. It’s a soft, soothing sound. I’ve read they make that sound when they’re curious, content, worried, bored, distressed or cautious. So, basically, it can mean just about anything.

Alpacas also cluck, or click. This is to indicate friendliness or submissiveness.

The most startling sound I’ve experienced was a high, staccato alarm-type sound. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. Since, up til then, they seemed so calm and composed, I could not imagine that sound was coming from them. When I peered up the road, I saw a dog. I then realized the girls were dreadfully afraid of that dog. I have since learned alpacas have an almost-innate fear of dogs. Of course, there are always exceptions. But, for the most part, this was a natural response. They clustered together, alerting one another to the imminent danger.


Everyone Loves the Alpacas. And, the Alpacas Love Most Everyone Back

Now that Jeff has invested so much time into the alpacas, they have become an absolute joy to be with. They are extremely enthusiastic to be with guests at the estate. Spending time with the girls has become a favorite amusement for kids of all ages here at Fly Creek.

Please share your alpaca stories with us. We would love to learn more about these sweet creatures. And, should you decide to come and vacation at our Fly Creek rental home, we will tell the girls you’re coming. They will be so happy to see you.

Bobbi Parke

Bobbi Parke is one of the estate's caretakers and guest hosts. She and hubby spend much of their time readying the house for guests, keeping the property in tip-top condition and caring for the chickens and alpacas. They know they've done a good job when they witness the look of the joy in their guests' faces.

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