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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The "NIBBLER"! (LaCroix Alpacas)

Who me?  What did I do?!

Who me? What did I do?!

Ah! The "nibbler"! The alpaca cria that is just so cute that you'd love to have him or her as a pet. A little cria that is very curious and actually wants to interact with you. Beware! You are in danger of spoiling an alpaca, and a spoiled alpaca is a real problem for humans! Alpacas eventually mature sexually, and with sexual maturity, comes aggression and the desire to express that aggression. The aggression may be expressed in varying degrees, but it is aggression and it is exacerbated in a spoiled alpaca.

At LaCroix Alpacas, I have an alpaca that was a "nibbler": i.e., an alpaca that liked to nibble on a coat sleeve, a pant leg, or anything that was handy. This behavior really hadn't been a nuisance and it was something that was apparently tolerated by her original owner when "the nibbler" was a cria. Because alpacas aren't as social as some species, I had to admit that this little interaction on her part had been nice in a social, alpaca-to-human way.

For example, she nibbled to communicate her wants and needs to me. Nibbling at the elbow might mean that she wanted more hay or grain. My alpaca was communicating with me! It was nice. Because she had a sweet and gentle personality, what is there not to love?

Something. On warm and sunny summer days, I would hang hay nets from the trunks of shade trees. If a net hung empty for awhile and the weather was too warm to do anything except rest, she, in her boredom, would nibble on a connecting knot in an empty hay net until the connection had broken; and one broken knot rendered that hay net useless. Suddenly nibbling had become frustrating and a little costly.

What to do? The personality of this particular alpaca had been very gentle, even as a pregnant maiden, and I had only to gently discourage her from nibbling...and to keep hay nets either filled or completely removed from her presence. [Extra work that I didn't need.] However, I also realized that my problem could have been much more difficult if the alpaca in question had possessed a more aggressive personality.

Lesson learned: Do not tolerate a nibbling alpaca. Do not even tolerate nibbling when it begins with a cria. Be gentle but discourage this habit. You never know where it will lead but it will cause inconvenience and, possibly, more.

My little nibbler: mature, pregnant, & as gentle as ever.  But NO NIBBLING!

My little nibbler: mature, pregnant, & as gentle as ever. But NO NIBBLING!