A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

February 23, 2009

Young Man, Just What Are You Doing?

Open Wide! Atlanticus rubs his dental pad on a fence panel

Open Wide! Atlanticus rubs his dental pad on a fence panel


I have been watching young Atlanticus over the past week or so.  He caught my eye because he always seemed to be chewing on the fence panels, except when he was eating that is.


A closer look revealed he is not actually chewing the fence panel, but rather rubbing his dental pad on the metal of the panel.  If alpacas grew teeth on their top dental pad I would suspect he is teething, but alpacas do not grow teeth on their top dental pads.


Years ago when we first had alpacas someone told us alpacas that chew on fence panels have a mineral deficiency, but I have never found any information to back that up.  We monitor the alpacas diet very carefully so I would be dubious that Atlanticus is lacking in minerals.  So what is Atlanticus doing?


The only thing I can think is that Atlanticus is bored.  He does have six other crias to play with, but since his birth he has always been an independent cria and a bit of a loner.  He joins in with the other crias games occasionally but for the most part he likes to explore the pasture alone.  So maybe it is boredom that is leading him to rub his dental pad on the fence panels, or maybe to him it just feels good.


I have discovered that if I walk over and put some hay in front of him Atlanticus will stop rubbing his dental pad, this makes me think that if he was hanging out with the other crias spending more time at the hay feeders he would not have his fence panel fixation.


Health wise Atlanticus is doing well.  He is a sturdy, active cria with beautiful bundled, bright white fleece so I can’t think that it is a health issued causing his behavior.  He has a good body score and weight and eats well.


Perhaps I should find some pasture toys to entertain Atlanticus, I know they make pasture toys for horses so why not alpaca toys? 


Hopefully Atlanticus will grow out of his fence panel fixation over time.  He is a beautiful male alpaca and is destined to win ribbons at shows, in time he will probably be used for breeding, although I really hope by then he has stopped rubbing his dental pad on the fence panels, it might make breeding a little difficult and it surely won’t impress the ladies!



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