Sunday, April 02, 2006


I'm just back from a weekend in the Wairarapa. We stayed with Brian and Colleen who share one and a half hectares with four male alpacas. Oh, they are so cute! (The alpacas, I mean, though B & C are very nice too). With their limpid brown eyes and sweeping long lashes, their soft fuzzy coats, camel necks (and feet) and soft furry lips. They are tame enough to eat from our hands but not willing to be petted, despite inspiring a strong desire in me to cuddle them. They are elegant as well as cute though and can have an air of dignity and aloofness.

These four boys originally came from a herd of 50 and seem to miss the crowd. We saw them trying to get to know the bull in the nextdoor paddock. He reached his nose over the fence for a kiss/sniff which obviously overstepped the bounds of alpaca etiquitte. A little spit in his eye from the lead alpaca had him jump in surprise, but luckily not retreat from their ongoing conversation.

In the Andes, pumas are the most dangerous predator that alpacas face. The two cats on the Wairarapa property kept them very alert at first, but after the puma-kitten-sized felines failed to grow into alpaca-threatening-sized predators they aren't so concerned.

They are not keen on dogs either. Brian and Colleen told us that a few days ago someone had been walking their dog along the road, and all the alpacas assembled on the highest point in their enclosure to bark menacingly at said dog from a safe distance (alpaca barking sounds like human laughter). But when Brian emerged from his shed to see what all the fuss was about, the alpacas were emboldened to rush to the fence and bark directly at the dog (who apparently was unconcerned by all this fuss).

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