Alpacas Living on the Wild Side!
Most Alpacas live cooped up... Not at LettsSafari.
Alpacas mostly live a cooped up experience in enclosed paddocks and sheds. At LettsSafari, after much experimenting, three alpaca males have been set free in Dawlish Park - back to their wilder roots. Cared for, yet liberated. It is noticeable how much happier, stronger and more natural they have become. On the one hand more relaxed and happy, on the other more alert and energetic.
“Perhaps a proxy for how we might all benefit from a wilder existence.”
As a result they get to forage more widely and keep the lower canopy of trees in shape. They supplement their wild grass eating with mixed green plants, wild fruit and gorse flowers! They have become more curious and engaged than ever.
These magnificent creatures, originally from the level heights of the Andes of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Ecuador and Northern Chile, communicate through body language. The most common is spitting to show dominance when they are in distress, fearful, or feel agitated (watch the video above!).
Male alpacas are more aggressive than females, and tend to establish dominance within their herd group. In some cases, alpha males will immobilise the head and neck of a weaker or challenging male in order to show their strength and dominance. It can be one wild wrestling match!
Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups. The three males at Dawlish Park consist of two brothers and an uncle. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet and can spit and kick. They will be very aggressive with members of the dog family including foxes, coyotes, dogs and more. This is exploited further when alpacas take on the role as guard llamas, protecting smaller grazing animals.
Alpacas can sometimes be aggressive, but they can also be very gentle, intelligent, and extremely observant. For the most part, alpacas are very quiet, but male alpacas are more energetic when they get involved in fighting with other alpacas. They are cautious but also nervous when they feel any type of threat. They can feel threatened when a person or another alpaca comes up from behind them.
They also know how to chill out. After all, it’s a hard life playing guard, alpha grazer, forager and general organiser. Mind you, they can play as well as any other creature. The sight of an alpaca rolling down a hill squeaking with joy is inspiring to say the least.
Sadly there are very few examples of alpacas living in wilder lands in the western world - cared for, yet free and natural. The example that we are setting at LettsSafari could be important on many different levels. Which animal will be next?