A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 3, 2008

Hell Hath No Fury Like…….

Theresa

A mother alpaca who feels that someone has threatened her cria! 

Just as I was finishing chores yesterday morning I heard a huge commotion coming from the large blue shelter in the girls pasture.  A group of the girls came running out and I could hear a couple of them screaming.  While the girls do squabble from time to time this was more than squabbling and I couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on.

As the dust settled I could see that the two screamers were Theresa and Rebecca.  Both girls are due to have their crias in May and both are very hormonal!  Alongside Rebecca was her last year’s cria Athena.  Athena is weaned and now over a year old, but she still likes to spend time with her dam from time to time.

The screaming continued as Theresa and Rebecca faced off and along with the screaming there was also some spitting taking place. 

When alpacas get into squabbles I usually wait a little while to see if they sort things out for themselves, more often than not they will.    Occasionally I do have to intervene if a couple of the boys are fighting too hard, but with the girls their battles are usually short.    That was not the case today though as Theresa and Rebecca continued to chase each other in circles, screaming as they went.

I went over to see if I could at least break their eye contact and diffuse the situation.  Fortunately I was wearing one of my hooded sweatshirts – the hoods provide excellent spit protection when required.

The two girls were as mad as they could be at each other.  I walked between them and Theresa stood in a defiant pose with her head and tail up, her lips trembling with anger.  Rebecca was very agitated and continue to scream and spit but now was directing her anger toward me.  I stepped toward her and Athena (who had remained by Rebecca’s side), put my hand up in front of her and firmly told her “No”.  The girls know that this means I am not willing to take any more spitting or screaming and will usually stop at this hand signal.

 Rebecca did stop, but then Athena decided that under the circumstances maybe she should return to nursing, putting her head under Rebecca.  As Athena is well weaned, Rebecca was not going to allow her to nurse and now directed her fury at Athena.  Poor little Athena flipped her tail up over her back in submission, and so I stepped between Rebecca and Athena and again raised my hand in front of Rebecca and told her “No”.

By this time Rebecca was getting the message, but there was still a lot of posturing going on between her and Theresa.  I got the girls moving and did my best to make sure that Theresa and Rebecca went in separate directions, but neither one of them really wanted to back down from the other.

Eventually Rebecca and Athena went into one of the feeding pens and Theresa headed off toward another.  I decided to take each girl a little hay, not as a reward, but rather as a way for her to clear the spit out of her mouth.  Alpacas and llamas will usually head to the hay following spitting, and use a mouthful to get the taste of the spit out of their mouths.

Theresa accepted her hay quite readily, Rebecca was a different story.  Athena by this time had cushed in the pen with Rebecca and looked a little shaken, so I walked over to check her and was met by Rebecca who started to scream at me again.  Athena remained cushed but again flipped her tail over her back.  It then struck me that something had caused Rebecca to be protective of Athena, while she had appeared to be directing her fury at Athena a little earlier, I think she was actually trying to protect her.  What I saw perhaps was not so much anger but fear that something was going to happen to Athena.

I stayed with Rebecca and Athena for a while, talking calmly to Rebecca and letting her see that I was not a threat to Athena.  She started to calm down and then sniffed Athena all over, checking to see that her daughter was okay.

I think that most likely this whole episode started when Theresa chased Athena away from one of the hay feeders.  Theresa can be particularly grumpy at the end of her pregnancy and I have seen her chase other alpacas away from her patch of the hay before.  She can become quite angry in the process and on one occasion a couple of years ago we ended up putting her in a pen on her own for a while until she calmed down.  I guess those hormones are just too much for Theresa by this time of her pregnancy.

Rebecca on the other hand is usually very calm.  She does get excited at feeding time and is quite vocal, grumbling to let us know that we should be getting her feed to her sooner, but I have never seen her get as angry as she was today.  While she has always been attentive to Athena, she has never been a dam who is extremely protective of her cria. She certainly showed Theresa today that even though Athena is more than capable of surviving on her own, Theresa had better not mess with her or else she will have to deal with Rebecca!

The rest of the day was peaceful with Theresa and Rebecca settling down to eat hay in separate areas and Athena joining her weanling friends in an afternoon chase around the pasture.

When I think of all of the girls we have in their last 60 days of pregnancy, I realize that we have quite a hormonal concoction in the pasture right now – maybe I will be wearing that hooded sweatshirt with it’s built in spit protection for a bit longer yet!

Rosemary

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: