Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Thanks to so many of you for playing along with the Mystery Animal Photo of the Day yesterday. That was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun on Facebook too - One of my friends said that she thought the mystery animal was... Al-ah-packa-a-suitcase-ana-come-for-a-visit?
What a hoot!
Well, she wasn't an alpaca, but a llama, but Meg you are more than welcome to pack a suitcase and come for a visit! I explained who Lucy the Llama was in this post.
One of the days on Martha's Vineyard we decided to go to the Alpaca farm - Island Alpaca Company - and see these darling animals in person. We heard that it was birthing season and that they had some little ones running around, too!
Most of the information I have on alpacas comes straight from the farm where we saw these girls or from their website (about alpacas). The boy alpacas were not in the barn or these fenced in areas with the girl alpacas or babies. The boys were kept away until mating time.
The alpacas have a bottom row of teeth, but the top of their mouth is a thick gum pad, but no teeth. This makes them very efficient in chewing grasses and hay, according to my research. I did notice that they all ate hay with minimal trouble. If I only had a bottom row of teeth, then I'm pretty sure I'd have a tough time, but these alpacas are built for it!
This lovely lady, I didn't catch her name, got a bit more than she bargained for. She spent a great deal of energy trying to shake off most of the hay hanging down, but she wouldn't let go of the bite she had, not even to get a smaller bite.
This alpaca was having a rough time of it and I'm not sure why. I did find it to be quite humorous that this ones name is Zora...just like my niece.
The lady alpacas are almost always pregnant as their gestation period is approx. 335 days. About six weeks after giving birth, they are able to get pregnant again. Mortality rates for baby alpacas is very low, which is good because each momma carries typically just one baby each year. Twins are quite rare.
These two babies (called crias) are just a few of the new babies at the Island Alpaca farm. They stayed pretty close to the center of the pen, but the older alpacas would come right up and allow us to pet them. Alpacas are nearly hypoallergenic (I wasn't allergic to them, which is amazing!) and they have the most wonderful fleece. I think I touched nearly every alpaca fleece item in the store and I would have gladly taken any of it home!
I've heard from many people that alpacas spit, like their llama and camel cousins, but according to the Island Alpaca site, if an alpaca spits it's usually at another alpaca and rarely at a human. They are really quite gentle and well behaved. Amazingly, as a collective group, alpacas will have just two or three spots where they poop, making it so easy to clean up after them.
If I were to go out and buy a ranch, I'd own alpacas.
If you ever get a chance to visit an alpaca farm, please do so. They are wonderful animals and great with kids.
Have a great day!