The Anatomy of Alpaca Teeth

The alpaca is a camelid native to South America. It was domesticated thousands of years ago and remains a valuable economic asset in nearly any part of the world where they have been imported.

Though, the species has not adapted perfectly to every land it has been moved into, they do have certain assets that allow them to adapt reasonably well to most climes. Among these assets are their teeth. But the anatomy of alpaca teeth is a matter of some complex biological data that creates the nuanced world that is the study of human and animal dentation.

Alpacas have the same number and type of teeth as their nearest living relative, the llama. Both species were domesticated from wild camelids (a line of hoofed mammals most closely related to modern camels) that once roamed South America but have since gone extinct, likely due to human activities in the region.

These very specific types and usages of teeth go back around 25 million years before the wild camelids of South America were domesticated and bred into the alpacas and llamas of today. For their part, alpaca teeth are distinct from llama teeth in that their front incisor teeth have very little or no enamel at all, meaning that their front teeth will grow well into adulthood, oftentimes requiring delicate tooth trimming to keep the animal capable of eating.

Alpacas have three kinds of teeth as determined by a specialized biological formula for distinguishing between teeth known as a dental formula. This formula tracks and compares the subtle differences between the teeth of both individual animals and entire species of animal. In the case of alpacas, there are three distinct overarching formulas to create three basic kinds of teeth; incisors, canines and molars.

The incisors of an alpaca are intended to chop vegetable matter off the plant and allow the alpaca to remove the vegetation and then chew it up. These incisors are biologically programmed to wear themselves down through regular chewing of food.

An alpaca also has six molars in both jaws, which the species uses to pulverize its food, as well as chew the cud that comes up from its stomach. Both of these functions are essential for the alpaca to be able to actually digest what it cuts off with its incisors.  The canine teeth are mostly prominent on male alpacas, and are used to bite and rip into flesh in combat.

Believe it or not, dental care is a real thing when it comes to Alpacas. Recent advances in technology have allowed animal lovers to extend dental health to their beloved animals. And, Alpacas are no different.

Flossing is not something too many animal owners do. But, it is a possibility nowadays. There are water flossers powerful enough to floss animal teeth. A few companies have been developing those. You can read more about it at

Dental Dorks offers a lot of useful information about dental care.

Differences Between Llamas and Alpacas

Llamas and Alpacas are animals found in the Andes Mountain somewhere in South America. They are vegetarian and eat plants and are said to be herbivores. They are domesticated and are not wild, unlike other species.

Llamas and Alpacas are both descended from camels, but they also have differences too. They are different regarding physical features, like weight, how their sense organs look like, their characteristics and what they produce. They have different dispositions in terms as a group and as an animal. To know their dissimilarities, here are the features that you should know about them;

The physical features that you can see in them are their face features: alpacas have blunt faces which look smooth while llamas have long faces. They also differ in sizes. Alpacas usually get to around 200 lbs in weight and are some 5ft tall at the top of their ears. Meanwhile, llamas get to around 6ft tall and can weigh up to 400lbs.

The form of their body is also different. Alpacas are short but have sloped backs while llamas are long and have a straighter back.

Furthermore, the alpacas have ear features of spear shaped short ears while the llamas have banana-shaped ears that are long.

Regarding fiber type, the alpacas provide a much finer fiber while llamas don’t produce much of its hair either on its head or its faces. You can both benefits from these two because alpacas are bred for soft wool and have good meat while llamas are good for pack animals only.

Both descendants of the camel also have different dispositions and traits with humans and in their group. Alpacas are said to be herd animals, and they can be easily trained like your pet cats at home, while llamas they are called to be more sociable yet very independent in thinking what to do. The alpacas are very soft and expensive. They are a very gentle and shy type of animal, they can easily learn tricks if you teach them, but need more attention and needs to have a safe environment too.

Llamas are rough and very fearless and they can carry loads of carrier bags or packs. It is usually an animal to ride on because they can carry two people and packs. They also serve as head guards in the yard.

Both came from one country in South America, but have distinguishing features. These two species though they came from same habitat and place of living, they both deserved to be preserved before they become endangered. Although you can benefit a lot from them, these animals are part of the eco-balance in the environment. You just have to appreciate their existence and familiarize their nature of living so that you can understand their purpose in the community especially when you get along with the other wild animals.

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Being stung by a bee, expectedly or unexpectedly, could cause an allergic reaction in alpacas. Despite the thickness of their skin, and the dense fleece, alpacas’ immune systems can still be affected by bee stings.

Furthermore, alpacas’ immune system may have an allergic reaction caused by weeds, certain feeds, pollen, drugs, and other insect bites. Sometimes it is hard to tell what caused the allergic reaction in an alpaca. Especially because it is practically impossible to find the place where a bee or an insect might have bitten them. Unless it is a very visible spot around their eyes or nose.

Before I go on, keep in mind that some alpacas show specific allergic reactions to manuka honey as well. See, because honey is a product of bees, it carries some pollen leftovers. Often times, if the alpaca is allergic to a bee sting, it will be allergic to manuka honey as well. Or, any other honey for that matter.

There are many different types of top manuka honey brands that you can review. But, it is likely that they will all have the same affect on your alpaca. this is because they all carry pretty much the same properties. The difference is that some have a higher grad of Unique Manuka Factor then others.

When an alpaca gets stung by a bee, their immune system releases a compound known as histamine. This compound is not specific to alpacas, even humans have it. It is an organic nitrogenous compound that cells release mainly in response to allergic and inflammatory reactions. This, causes dilation of capillaries and various contraction of smooth muscle.

In other words, the release of histamine in the alpaca’s body can cause swelling, respiratory difficulties, shock, and a variety of similar signs.

I’ve had a few cases of bee stings to some of my alpacas back in the day. The one that I remember most vividly was when Ron the Don (that was his name), came running around near the fence. The animal seemed distressed and its face was visibly swollen.

When I got to calm him down, I noticed that the swell went from the tip of his nose all the way up to his right eye. The swelling itself was very hard, and about three times bigger than what I’ve seen before. And I have had two previous similar cases. None of them as drastic as this one! My initial suspicion was bee sting.

See, bee stings are painful not just to us, human beings, but animals alike. In the case of Ron the Don, the irritation was localized (his face), and the swelling went away rather quickly (3 days). The very next day, I would say that the swelling was down to 50% or so. This was good, because it allowed Ron the Don to resume eating at a normal pace.

Most allergic reaction go away on their own and do not require a veterinary assistance. As was the above mentioned case. However, keep in mind that severe allergic reactions can be deadly. Especially if they restrict the airway, or manage to cause hemorrhaging. So, if ever in doubt, make sure you call your veterinary right away.

All you need to know about Alpacas

Often mistaken for llamas or camels, alpacas are some of the most easily domesticated animals. Gentle, curious and friendly, they are considered have been considered the gem of the Andes Mountains for over 6,000 years.

This breed of New World camelids has shaggy necks, no humps (unlike popular belief), long ears, pronounced noses and camel-like faces. Look them in the eyes, and you will find a child-like curiosity.

There are two types of alpacas and they are qualified based on their fleece:

Huacaya – the predominant breed of alpacas in North America. They have dense, crimped, wooly and somewhat water resistant fleece.

Suri – a much more rare breed of alpacas. Unlike the Hacaya, Suri has unique fiber characteristics that make them easy to distinguish. Their slick and soft like cashmere fiber grows parallel to their body in long and separate locks.

It is important to note, that the hair of the alpacas is referred to as fleece or fiber. Thousands of years ago, their hair was used as currency, making the Suri fiber very expensive. Due to the fact that this breed is very rare.

In order to raise and breed alpacas organically and naturally, you have to pay close attention to their health. In this sense, various herbs play a crucial role in the lifelong well-being of these beautiful creatures.

The land where you breed alpacas if absolutely essential. However, the herbs that grow on the land are equally important.

During my long years of breeding alpacas, I’ve come across a variety of plants and herbs. Astonishingly enough, alpacas seem to be able to distinguish what is best for them.

Nettles (Utrica Dioica)

Often referred to as common nettle or stinging nettle, this plant is extremely rich in chlorophyll. One of many plants that we, humans, like to use as spices. It is abundant on minerals, iron, lime, sodium, chlorine and protein. When it comes to alpacas, it helps strengthen their muscles and increases milk yield.

Wormwood (Artemesia Absinthium Compositae)

This herb is a great worm expellant. It has strong anti-bacterial properties and it can be used against contagious diseases. When mixed with manuka honey and sage as a brew, it can help difficult alpaca births.

Aloe Vera (Aloe lilaceae)

This herb is a bit harder to grow, it requires dry and sandy places. However, it is absolutely amazing for the treatment of urinary conditions, mastitis, indigestion and constipation in alpacas.

Yarrow (Achilea Millefolium Compositae)

I’ve found that herb to be useful for the treatment of pleurisy, and haemorrhages. Also, it is quite easy to plant in North America.

Parsley (Petroselirium Crispuni Umbelliferae)

Good old parsley grows best in moist conditions and full sun. As with humans, this herb helps alpacas fight kidney stones, obesity, worms, constipation, and various bladder conditions.

Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale Compositae)

Great for blood cleansing, featured in almost any cleansing “green” juice recipe. Besides preventing skin eruption, dandelion is great for the liver.

Mallow (Althea Officinalis Malvacea)

This is one of the most popular herbs that can be found in pretty much any farm. The reason is that it is loved by all animals – big and small. Mallow speeds up the treatment of all kinds of internal conditions, such as inflammations. Especially helpful for the stomach and bowel.

Some other herbs that are amazing for the health of alpacas include Mullein, Shepherds Purse, Mint, Fumitory, Chives, Comfrey, Chamomile, Echinacea, Rose Hip, Raspberry Leaf, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Willow, Poplar, Robinia, Pine, Tagasaste and Photinia.

Making such herbs available to your alpacas will increase their health substantially. This will be visibly reflected by their fleece. It will grow at a faster and thicker rate.