A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 30, 2008

Velvet Takes On A Challenge

Velvet - March 2008

I’m not sure what is on Velvet’s mind these days; since weaning she seems to be seeking attention from the other alpacas and not always in a good way.

Velvet does follow her dam Queen around sometimes during the day, but Queen is one of those alpaca dams who has no qualms about “cutting the apron strings”.  Once Queen is ready to wean her crias she does not want to have anything to do with them.  Bjorn on the other hand is quite happy to have her daughters by her side even when they have had crias of their own, and most of the other dams in the pasture have some bond with their adult offspring but not Queen.

So perhaps Velvet is feeling that severance from Queen, but what ever it is, she has decided that she will get attention one way or another. 

First she started by trying to wander round with some of the other dams in the herd but they were not interested in buddying up with her. Then having failed at finding a friend with the older dams Velvet decided to go for something bigger – a llama!

As I looked out across the girls pasture the other day there was Velvet with her head under Griffin, one of the llamas.  Velvet appeared to be trying to nurse from Griffin, and while Griffin tolerated it for a minute or two she then decided that she had enough of Velvets affections.  Turning around she nudged Velvet from under her and then placed her neck over Velvet’s, a dominant action in the body language of camelids.

Velvet didn’t take the hint from Griffin, instead deciding to provoke her more by taking Griffins leg in her mouth and pulling on it.  Now Griffin can be tolerant, but she is a very proud llama and so could not allow herself to be pulled around by an alpaca weanling.  Griffin retaliated by grabbing Velvet’s leg in her mouth and pulling on Velvet.

At that point I decided that it was time for me to intervene.  The horseplay was not yet rough, but having seen alpacas and llamas play I know that it can soon escalate to some heavy pushing and shoving.  As gentle as Griffin is, she is several times larger than Velvet and even in play she could inadvertently hurt Velvet.  So Velvet’s game was over at least for a while.

Yesterday though Velvet was back provoking Griffin again.  As I looked out to check on the girls there was Griffin with Velvet’s leg in her mouth and then Velvet was grabbing Griffin by the leg.  I intervened again and sent the two girls off in different directions, watching and waiting to make sure Velvet didn’t return to bother Griffin again.

Velvet has other alpacas close to her age in the pasture who she feeds with every day, and I am a little surprised that she doesn’t seek their attention over that of Griffin.  Blast is always happy to play with other alpacas and Athena has been around since Velvet was born and is quite happy to walk around the pasture with Velvet.   But for some reason Velvet seems to need more than the attention of her peers.  If we had forced weaning on Velvet I would be suspicious that she had not been fully ready for weaning, but it was Queen who started that process off and made it clear to Velvet that the milk bar was closed.  Then again perhaps it is something in the genes, Velvet’s half sister TeQueely used to challenge the llamas when she was about Velvet’s age, but she would never take them on physically, instead preferring to run up to them and posture at them trying to intimidate them as best she could.

So perhaps Queen’s crias have a dare devil streak in them.  Whatever it is Velvet had better be careful that she does not take on too much of a challenge, and I had better be keeping an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get herself into a heap of trouble!


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