February 2015

With the price of alpacas coming down in recent years, I have heard of several people who have bought them in as field pets. I am also aware that the training of these lovely animals, beyond basic handling, is becoming popular, with some owners going in for obstacle work and clicker training.

A word of warning, however...and I write this because I am terrified that anyone might be drawn to working closely with an alpaca because they have been influenced by what I have achieved with Banksy on this website..and then have the experience that an owner had a few weeks ago. It was an alpaca that had been bottle fed and over-handled in its early days, and then at the age of three had turned aggressively on its owners and, in short,the situation became life-threatening. The animal had to be destroyed.

This is, fortunately, an exceptional case but I am hearing more and more about badly behaved alpacas. I think one of the problems is that they look so adorable with their huge eyes, lashes and teddy bear looks that owners are afraid to discipline them.Looks can be deceptive.

If you are new to camelids and have taken on an alpaca, please may I offer a bit of advice.

It is this: If you are handling a young animal, never ever, ever accept any behaviour from it that you would not accept from an older animal.

No matter how cute, cuddly, endearing that youngster is. Be FIRM. If he is jumping up, nosing your clothes, getting in y' face, whatever, do not accept it. It could save you from a heart-breaking situation later on.