A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 2, 2008

The Cats Are Slacking!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:34 am

Smoky Cat Takes A Break
Smoky Cat Takes A Break





When we purchased our property the previous owner asked us if we wanted a few barn cats.  We agreed to a few, but it turned out that our idea of “few” and his were extremely different.  We thought maybe two or three cats; the previous owner left us about twenty cats!

Over the years our cat herd has reduced, illness, coyotes and owls have all played a part in lowering the cat population and eventually we got down to three cats.  One female gray cat who is one of the original group that was left here, one of the gray cats sons or daughters (we’ve never been able to get close enough to check if that cat is a he or a she) and Kit Cat, a Siamese cross who was dumped out here shortly after we moved in.  We were content to have the three cats, but then as often happens when you live in the country all of a sudden a couple more cats appeared, a beautiful smoky grey tom cat and a fluffy black and white cat who likes to talk to you all the time.   


 The snake wasn’t bothering anything, it was sitting basking in the sunshine, but it was pointed in the direction of the girls pasture.   It was about two foot long and had a definite rattle on the end of its tail.  If it had been a bull snake or other harmless snake I would have moved it to another area of the property, but to have a rattlesnake headed toward the girls pasture was not a good prospect, the snake would have to go.

 Alpacas tend not to do very well in snake bite situations, with several small cria running around the chances were too great that one of them would stick his or her nose on the snake out of curiosity should the snake make it into the pasture.

 Fortunately one of the neighbors was home and was able to come and kill the snake for me.  I wasn’t sure that my aim would have been accurate enough to kill the snake with one hit and the last thing I wanted was a hurt angry snake to deal with.

Here's grey cat also taking a break - theses cats need to get to work!

Here's Grey Cat also taking a break - these cats need to get to work!

 While waiting for my neighbor to arrive, one of the cats actually passed the snake, sniffed the snakes tail and then walked on again without even giving a second thought to taking the snake on.  I guess the snake was too inactive to keep the cats attention, but it would have been nice for the cat to at least try and do her job! 

Hopefully that will be the last snake I see for a while, although with the lovely warm fall days we have been having there is a chance than another snake or two might make and appearance.  Let’s hope that if that is the case the cats decide to do their job and keep the snakes at bay!



Kit Cat – also taking a break

Kit Cat - also taking a break

The cats are supposed to keep the mice and snakes down, when we had a larger cat population we had very few mice and snakes but as the population dwindled we noticed evidence of mice in the feed area and mice of course will attract snakes.On Thursday afternoon I headed out early to start on chores.  It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures in the high seventies.  As I passed the feed barn on the way to the hay area I saw something lying on the ground and initially didn’t think too much of it, but something made me stop and take a better look – it was a rattlesnake!

November 24, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

Our Llamas Griffin, Maya and Inca  When the phone rings at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning it usually means someone has a problem.  That was the case this Thanksgiving morning.  The caller was a young lady who recently adopted some llamas from llama rescue, she had gone out to check on the llamas in the morning to find one of them had a swollen head.  The poor llamas head was literally swollen up like a balloon and there was blood coming out from the llama’s eyes.

As there was not one area of swelling it seemed unlikely that this was an injury, a more likely cause was a snakebite.  The temperatures over the last few days have dropped dramatically and so most snakes would have gone to ground by now, but there was at least one still out there and active.

I told the llamas owner that she really needed to call the vet, but I knew realistically it was going to be difficult to find vet on Thanksgiving who was working.  Even more of a challenge was that the llama that needed treatment was on a ranch many miles from the nearest town.

I asked the llama owner if she had any banamine on hand which might help ease the swelling, but she did not have any.  All the owner had on hand was some penicillin.

I suggested that the owner still try her best to get hold of a vet, but also suggested that she start calling neighboring farms and ranches to see if they had any medicines on hand that she could use. 

The llama owner asked me to call Pat Little at Southwest Llama Rescue, which I did.  Pat is one of the “angels” of Southwest Llama rescue who not only helps coordinates a lot of the llama adoptions, but also houses many of the llamas that are looking for new adoptive or foster homes.  Pat has many years of experience with llamas.

I hated disturbing Pat’s Thanksgiving morning, but knew that Pat would want to know about the llama with the snakebite.  Pat was soon on the phone with the llama’s owner giving her advice as to what she needed to do.

Unfortunately despite calls to three different vets no one was able to come out to treat the llama.  Fortunately though as of yesterday the llama was doing much better, her eyes were starting to open a little and she was eating grain, which is encouraging.  The llama’s owner had given the llama some penicillin and also gave her some Claritin that she had on hand in the house.  I am not sure what effect the Claritin would have on the llama but so far it does not seem to have had an adverse effect, and who knows maybe it helped.

When you are raising livestock you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected.  Who would have thought that a snakebite would occur on a cold and snowy (yes it snow during the morning) November day, but it did occur and unfortunately the llama’s owner did not have the supplies on hand to deal with the situation or at least buy herself a little time while she found a vet who could help her.

It would be unrealistic to expect every alpaca and llama owner to have a full veterinary supply cupboard of medicines and other veterinary supplies, but they should at least have some basic supplies on hand.  Over the years we have accumulated various supplies and learnt which medicines to keep on hand.  We do not have a high incidence of snakes in this area but if we did I would certainly have the medicines on hand to treat a snakebite.  

Usually your veterinarian can advise you what you should keep on hand in case of emergencies, and I am sure it will vary from area to area depending on different threats and risks.  Having established the supplies that you need, make sure that you then go out and get them, it’s Murphy’s Law that emergencies happen after hours or on holidays.  When the unexpected happens having a basic medicine kit on hand could mean the difference between life and death.


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