John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpacas as Pets

Alpacas  can make good pets. They are very intelligent. Shy by nature, they are unlikely to give or request affection, but they are easily trained to a halter and have been successfully trained to perform many tricks.  For many small farm owners alpaca can be a good alternative to traditional livestock such as sheep, cattle or even horses, particularly if children are in the family.

For those seeking an alpaca as a pet there are several things to consider. First, it is important to realize that alpacas are a herd animal and do best when pastured with other alpacas. With this in mind, it is best to have a minimum of two alpacas.

Pet quality male alpacas can be purchased for $500-1000 each, or sometimes less. These alpacas are likely to have poor quality fleece and/or some conformational problems. For instance, blue eyed alpacas are often considered at risk of deafness, or there may be some history of congenital defects in the pedigree that has caused the breeder to remove these animals from the breeding pool.

Male alpacas should be gelded, but this is best done after the age of two. Evidence suggests that gelding an alpaca prior to the growth plates closing on the bones can lead to excessive growth in the long bones of the legs. This can lead to long term skeletal problems in the alpaca.

Failure to geld can lead to behavioral problems, mainly due to the effects of testosterone. There are many accounts of unruly alpacas calming down within a few weeks of being gelded.

A couple of pet males can be cared for quite inexpensively. Primary expenses might be a yearly vet exam, worming and vaccinations, shearing, and perhaps hay and feed supplements (depending on the location). A pet dog can easily be more expensive to keep than two male alpacas.

Kids love alpacas. It is a wonder to watch the delight on the face of a child when they first meet an alpaca. And, most alpacas have an affinity for children. For the small acreage landowner with children, alpacas may be a perfect match. Besides the opportunity to learn the basic skills needed to care for a pet, children can become involved in 4H or FFA activities, and may even develop a life long interest in the fiber arts.

For more information about pet alpacas, contact us. If you are not in our area we will arrange for you to contact a breeder closer to you.

 
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"His dress was simple, consisting of a pair of trowsers, and a shirt of the cotton cloth of the country, of a dark blue colour; a poncho of alpaca wool covered his shoulders, while a sash was fastened round his waist, and his feet were protected by sandals, fastened on by leather thongs. He threw himself on the ground before my father, who went to meet him, and taking his hand, he looked up imploringly in his face...."

W.H.G. Kingston
Manco, the Peruvian Chief - An Englishman's Adventures in the Country of the Incas
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