Alpaca behavior is importand to learn when raising your cuddly camelids. What kind of body language, sounds, and herd response is normal? Alpacas are cool to own and fun to watch. Especially if you understand their language.
Alpacas use vocalization and body movement to communicate. Knowing what is normal will help you understand what's happening within your herd. And it will make you laugh sometimes, too.
On Alert - the body is rigid, ears forward, tail slightly raised.
The Dispute Look - This alpaca behavior can be amusing to watch. Two alpacas stand rigidly next to each other, ears pinned back, head tilted upward. Usually leads to a spitting match if one doesn't yield.
Submission - The alpaca will drop its neck and flip its tail onto its back.
Cud chewing - Alpacas will cush and contentedly chew their cud.
Sunning - Alpacas love to lay in the sun on warm days. Sometimes the entire herd will sun. A mild warning not to panic. They look dead when this alpaca behavior is practiced.
Rolling - An alpaca loves to roll in the dust. They put their nose to the ground, paw the dirt, drop to their knees, roll on one side, and then repeat on the other side. When done, they stand up and shake off the dust.
Aggression - If an alpaca puts its head down near the ground, its tail up, and starts running towards you, get out of the area. That's an aggressive approach and they may butt you.
Fighting - Males will run at fast speeds with no regard to their safety during the heat of a battle. They will rear up, spit, bite, ram, neck wrestle, and pin each other down. A full out battle is rather scary alpaca behavior to watch. Be sure and keep your pasture clear of obstructions if you are going to keep males together. They will not be watching out for their own safety during a fight.
Humming - Sometimes it sounds to us like they are saying...Hmm? When the females have cria, we noticed they hum more. Apparently, to bond with the cria and keep in contact.
Clucking - Female alpacas cluck to their cria.
Alarm sound - Called the squeeky wheel among alpaca owners. It's quite different. Our elder, dominate female is the one who alerts on cats, birds, paper, weeds, anything she thinks is scary. The other alpacas rarely alert. She seems to be the one assigned to this task or just more nervous than the rest. When she alarms, the others will look and decide if it's worth getting upset about. If not, they go about their business.
Screaming - We have one alpaca that screams sometimes when she is being sheared. Sounds like we are murdering her. And sometimes our males scream during a fight. It can be ear-piercing at times.
Orgling - This sound is made by males during breeding. The call seems to attract unbred females and the sound may also stimulate them to ovulate.
Alpacas are herd animals. This Star Wars Alpacas video shows their herd behavior:
Banding - The herd will band together when someone alerts. We have seen them gather around cria during an alert.
Heirachy - We have noticed that among our alpaca animals, the older ones seem to be the herd leaders. The rank within the herd depends on age and aggression.
Aggressive Protective Response - A herd will band together and chase a small predator out of the field. They will chase a lone coyote out of the pasture.
Community Bathroom - Much to the glee of owners, alpacas use a common dung pile.
Now that you understand some normal alpaca behavior, you can read their language and follow what is taking place in your herd.