Research notes – Alpacas

ImageThis is an alpaca, a camelid who’s part of a pretty little herd of alpacas in Northamptonshire.

Having had her baby a few weeks earlier, she had just been shorn of her fleece – to make gorgeous and expensive clothing – which had left her looking a bit like a punk rock sheep with a long neck.

I’ve tried to resist putting my friends’ herd of alpacas in a book, for one reason or another, but once I’d been to spend time with the herd, I could resist it no longer. So Emilia, in Is This Love? is going to have a starter herd for five pregnant females and, having recently found an interest in yoga, is going to call the babies after yoga moves, like Warrior II and Triangle. Emilia is the young wife of a rich industrialist, so can pretty much have what she wants, and she wants alpacas.

She’s also going to use the herd to irritate my new hero, Jed, who works for Emilia’s husband, Tom.

I can’t blame her because they’re lovey animals.Image

They make a soothing noise, as well, called humming. It’s not an impatient or condemnatory hum, it’s not even a musing one, but more of an approving, ‘Mmm!’ as if the alpacas, having looked at you, like what they see.

What came as an absolute surprise to me is that alpacas are guardians. Shepherds will buy a couple (they hate hanging out alone) and put them in with the sheep and the alpacas act as an early warning system when there’s a fox about. Very effective, apparently.

Alpacas come in all shades of fawn, gold, brown and black and the pregnancy of a female will last over eleven months, usually. (Can’t help but feel that they have a raw deal, there.) As you can see from the pic, they have little camel-like two-toed hoofs. Bless.



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9 responses to “Research notes – Alpacas

  1. Looking at your photo, alpacas surely win the gold medal in the animalympics for best ever hairdo!


  2. We have 3 alpacas in a big garden near us. They are soo amusing! It’s the ‘Huh?’ expression.


  3. Penny

    Camelid. A new word I feel I ought to’ve known! Will look forward to reading about the alpacas.


  4. Debs Carr

    How lovely. I’d love to have alpacas and look forward to reading about Emilia and her alpacas in your book.


  5. I look forward to reading about them in your new book! Also look forward to seeing them too.


  6. Sunnu Golwalla

    Look forward to read the book!


  7. We have a herd of alpacas here in Australia and have recently welcomed three crias (babies). Our alpacas are the suri kind – the ones with the corkscrew wool; but one of our crias has reverted to the huacaya (boofy, curly) wool due to a genetic throwback and his coat is thick and fluffy. They are gorgeous creatures, protective and expressive and I have recently included them in a short story I’ve sent off to a comp. I’ll let you know how I get on.


    • Hi Vicky, I believe the Alpaca herd belonging to my friend are all Huacaya. The newest arrival is all black and has been named Liquorice. I’m going to visit them again on the 24th, so I’m looking forward to that.

      Goo luck with the short story!


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