While I type this blog, I am looking over a beautiful valley with the sea shining in the distance. Less than an hour’s drive and Auckland city welcomes the traveler. We have been ‘on the road’ since October, 2016 and this is our last housesit. We fly home to Canada on May 2, 2017.
Cara, Milo and Delentia
It is our delight to look after the above-named alpaca. They graze just before a beautiful open deck and spend their time “chewing the cud” between two paddocks. When it is feeding time, Milo, the alpha male will actually hum.
Listen to them Hum
Alpacas communicate by humming. Only if they are extremely upset will they spit.
When feeding or walking them, our hosts have told us not to touch their hinds legs which are very sensitive. To do so, might result in the alpaca kicking backwards.
They were first domesticated by the Incas of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Back then, only the I can royalty could wear their soft and warm wool. Alpacas may graze as high as 5,000 m or 16,000 ft.
Alpacas are smaller than llamas and come in two types of breed.
The Huacayas are the most popular and are sheared like sheep for their wool. (They are on the left of this picture and on the right is the Sure breed.
People who are allergic to sheep’s wool are happy wearing Alpaca clothing. Believe it or not, alpacas can be house-trained. Outside in the field, alpacas like to use one spot to poo. Llamas are beasts of burden, but the alpacas is mainly bred for its wool.
Milo the Alpha Male
Milo likes to gurgle-talk with a hum thrown in. That is the best way that I can describe his greeting when it is time for feeding. His two female friends, Cara and Del remain silent. Feeding consists of placing dry hay into individual buckets and making a nest where pellets are thrown in. It is a joy to see them notice us and know that it is feeding time. They run up the hill with such grace. Watching alpacas eat brings smiles to our faces. They have a three-chambered stomach.
After taking food, they chew the cud in a figure of eight motion.
Females give birth to a single alpaca called a ‘cria.” The gestation time is approximately 11.5 months. As a species, alpacas tend to live for up to 25 years.
Alpacas make a variety of sounds. Although we have only heard Milo hum. He does produce a “cluck” and a “click” sound and this is a friendly or submissive gesture. When alpacas fight or are threatened by dogs or cats they make a “wark” sound . Alpacas are social herd animals that also live in family groups with a alpha male. When the herd in in danger, they make a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet and they will spit and kick.. Farmers will often employ alpacas to guard sheep from coyotes, dogs and foxes.
This is our third time looking after alpacas. The first time was on the southern island of New Zealand. The second time was in the Yorkshire moors and now, in the northern island of New Zealand. Alpacas are wonderful animals and we would like to housesit them again.