Cleveland Park Animal Hospital’s Blog
Llamas and Alpacas for pets?
When I was in veterinary school at Auburn University, I spent summers assisting a missionary in Uganda and Kenya. Much of her work involved small ruminants, and so began my work with camelids. After falling in love with these beautiful creatures, I returned to clinicals my senior year and concentrated on Alpacas and Llamas. Once in practice in Travelers Rest, I truly began to learn the complexity, peculiarity and meekness of the species. I especially love working side by side with Greenville County owners of these ancient animals, because in the world of Alpacas/Llamas…”it takes a village”.
Although different species, Llamas and Alpacas can be successfully bred with the resulting offspring called “huarizo”. With the exception of my favorite llama friends, Pilgrim and John, I will refer mostly to Alpacas. My favorite Alpaca’s name is Anna. As a cria, she demanded that I study hard and learn the nuances of her breed. Anna and I made our debut in the Camelid Quarterly in 2007 and she has remained in my heart ever since. She was even the star of the Travelers Rest Christmas parade that won our Animal Hospital a first place award!
￼Some Interesting Facts About Alpacas:
*In 1984, the North American trend for alpacas began with a small carefully selected imported herd. Since then, alpacas have grown to over 20,000!
* Alpaca fleece is free of lanolin, making it hypoallergenic. It comes in over 20 different natural colors and is lighter than sheep’s wool.
* Even though the alpacas are classed with the ruminant family, they have only three stomach compartments instead of four.
* Alpaca fiber is both water and flame resistant! It has a natural wicking property and meets rigid fire safety regulations for use as a Class 1 fiber in clothing and furnishings.
* Alpacas use a communal dung pile. Because of this predisposition for a shared bathroom, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained!
* A musical purr, called Humming, is the most common sound an alpaca makes.
In my 14 years of veterinary practice and working with mixed animals, I have only once found myself in the hospital. A mishap occurred while attempting to sedate my friend Pilgrim. As he bolted from the insertion of the needle, I plunged the remaining sedative (appropriately named llama lullaby) into my hand, thus causing an afternoon in the Travelers Rest Hospital and a wonderful slumber! Even though these beautiful animals are surprisingly mild mannered, one still has to remember to regard them with respect. These ancient creatures are a joy to work with and I treasure their devoted caretakers as well.
With 4 children under 6yrs old, I read a lot from the Llama Llama series. These are some of our favorite books and I hope you will also enjoy them:
“Llama, Llama, Red Pajama”
“Llama, Llama,Mad At Mama”
“Llama, Llama,Misses Mama”
“Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama”
For more information about llamas and alpacas, I recommend the publication Camelid Quarterly and www.llamas-alpacas.com. It would be my pleasure to visit your farm and meet your captivating camelids as well!