Pet Alpacas and Llamas
alpacas and llamas can make wonderful pets! If you have fallen in love with an alpaca,
but can't afford the investment costs related to breeding, showing, registration, and so on, then perhaps a
pet alpaca or a miniature llama is for you. In the alpaca world, pet alpacas and llamas are called "fiber animals, companion animals, or guard llamas."
Able Oaks Ranch occasionally has pet alpacas and llamas for sale, but they get snapped up very quickly. See currently available pet llamas and alpacas.
Why Buy Pet Alpacas and Llamas?
Some people are eager to get started raising alpacas, but can only afford to purchase one
breeding-quality animal. Unfortunately, one alpaca by itself will not thrive, and reputable breeders will
not place an alpaca or llama alone by itself without at least one other camelid companion.
In this case, a pet llama or alpaca can be included in a buyer's startup herd purchase at a very low cost.
In addition, a pet alpaca or llama may be purchased for a wide variety of other reasons, such as:
- To work with its fiber in spinning, knitting, weaving, and other craft projects.
- To work as a guard animal for other livestock, such as
sheep, goats, and alpacas.
- To help qualify their property for
agricultural tax rates.
- To obtain an "agricultural usage" rating for land taxes with a small, attractive, and easy-to-care-for pasture animal without the expense and trouble that is frequently associated with horses and cattle.
However, before rushing out to purchase a pet alpaca, there are a few
things that you must know to set your expectations appropriately.
- Alpacas and llamas are herd animals. They must share a pen or pasture with another
alpaca or llama. So obtaining at least two camelids is the first requirement. An alpaca should not be kept with
other livestock animals, such as horses, goats, sheep. They really need the companionship of
another camelid. Alpacas and llamas can run together; however, they should not interbreed. So a mixed
alpaca/llama herd should all be of the same sex, or the males should be gelded.
- Make certain that the temperament of the
alpacas you are purchasing is normal, and that you are not taking on an alpaca or llama with a problem temperament.
Spend some time at the selling ranch observing the behavior of the animals. Are they currently running with
other camelids and behaving in a normal camelid manner? Can you halter and lead them?
- Alpacas do not display the same type of affection as dogs. Alpacas are pasture animals with a keen
sense of personal space. They are curious
and like to hang out with humans, but they prefer to stay a respectful distance just outside an arm's reach.
- Once haltered, most alpacas and llamas are very easy to manage and lead around.
- Like other pets, you will need to provide food, fresh water, shelter, and annual vet innoculations.
- You will also need to shear the fleece once a year.
Costs for Pet Alpacas
Alpacas designated as pet quality can range in price from $1,000 and up.
Keeping a couple
of alpacas as pets can be done quite inexpensively. The expenses you can expect are annual vet exams, vaccinations,
monthly worming, annual shearing, and monthly feed costs. Most alpacas and llamas eat the equivalent of onwe square
bale of hay per week and about 1/4 lb. of feed pellet supplements per day. A 50 lb bag of camelid feed costs in the range of $10 to $15
per bag, depending on the manufacturer. Indeed a pet dog or cat can end up
being more expensive than two alpacas because alpacas primatily graze grass and are never groomed other than their annual shearing
to remove a year's growth of fleece.
If you are interested in a pet alpaca for its fleece, then a fiber animal is a great bargain. Many miniature
llamas also have very soft fleece. Just because a fiber animal is sold at a low price does NOT necessarily mean
that its fleece is of poor quality. A pet quality price may mean only that an alpaca has a conformational problem.
For example, a blue-eyed alpaca is frequently considered to be at risk of deafness, or some
other congenital defect may appear in the history of the pedigree. As a result these alpacas are
removed from the breeding pool and deemed "Fiber Quality."
Gelding Pet Males
Most breeders sell their pet quality males as "non-breedable" and will register them as such. In addition,
the male should be gelded at two years old or older to maintain a mellow disposition and temperament. Gelding is
not recommended earlier than age two to enable the male's skeleton to fully develop.
Pet Alpacas and Llamas for Children
Alpacas and llamas can be wonderful pets for children? Kids can learn the basics about
caring for a pet, as well as becoming involved with 4H groups and developing a lifelong interest in animals.
can show alpacas at halter shows in many different classes, such as Junior Showmanship, Performance, Costume,
and Regular Halter classes.
This was last update on June 8, 2008