Monday, 24 January 2011

Cuddles...could it all come back to bite you on the bum?

There seems to be a bit of a theme going on in a number of blogs; admittedly mainly within the content of female authors...but I know plenty of mighty men who do it to...what is this? Alpacas and ...Cuddles! Yes, it's that time of year when it is so easy to get a touch of the winter blues...without an alpaca cuddle to cheer the day that is.

However it did get me thinking back to when our first females arrived, all with cria at foot. I had read so much about imprinting through over handling, that I hardly dare touch the babes at all, other than for husbandry tasks. Cuddling these irresistible balls of fluff was almost certainly going to turn them into unmanageable 'berserk alpacas' who would have no respect for humans...and what's more if I decided to ignore this advice; I will only teach them to tolerate me because they had no choice. They would not have any real affection for me... Poppy Cock!!! ...absolute Poppy Cock!!

Fair enough there has to be some mutual respect, as is the case with all animals, and care must be taken with bottle fed cria to avoid imprinting when they are very young. But at the end of the day every alpaca is individual, some like being cuddled others don't. However you can most certainly build an alpaca / human relationship with some meaning...this meaning will have more depth with some than others...I am still just the provider of food in Bonita's case and the love of his life in Hollywood's.

So I thought that I would put it to the test with this year's cria. The findings of this field study can be split into four groups:
  • Actively seeks cuddles. Impossible not to oblige: Finian, Noah, Nutmeg.
  • Rather likes cuddles but is rather more coy about it: Explorer, Poppet, Roma
  • Needs a little encouragement but enjoys once caught: Kenzie, Lucie, Tabitha
  • Absolutely hates it. Could star in the Exorcist: Parisien

So nine out of ten prefer cuddles...can't be bad.

Hollywood and myself at Northumberland Show love and respect.

Taking of respect or lack of it; Velvet and Tyke have obviously developed a bond that was unbeknown to me:

Velvet who is obviously suffering from a lack of exercise due to leg rest, that combined with too much attention, is a little out of control (berserk?). Today she decided to chase the weanlings...okay she was playing...but she knew that this was out of bounds. So when I caught her I proceeded to bend down and do some serious finger this point Tyke (the miniature Yorkshire Terrier) jumped up and bit the seat of my flesh involved luckily...who to chastise?...sibling love after all...unfortunately I was too busy laughing to sort out Yorkies ever listen anyway?


  1. Tyke has developed a relaxed style when managing his staff, though is swift to identify conflict and acts decisively when necessary!

  2. Yes Amanda...I can just hear Jim Royal saying: A relaxed style my a#%*!!

  3. Naughty Tyke!
    That is a really lovely photo of you and Hollywood. I cannot fathom how you can always look so glamorous - even in a white coat!

  4. I had the same advice about imprinting and have always not handled cria unnecessarily until they are about 6 months. This has been reinforced by a male cria that was very friendly despite not being encouraged, unfortunately this boy went on to be very aggressive when he reach adulthood. So now any cuddles wait until they have been weaned.

  5. An interesting bit of research Barbara - I'm sure there's a t.v programme in there, perhaps annually coming back to see how they are getting on? I wonder if Professor Winstone would be interested.

  6. What a fantastic picture of you and love on an adoaring scale ! On the cuddling theme.....I always, handle as least as possible when the cria are with their mothers....but when they are weaned....then its time for the hands on....halter training..and the odd cuddle !!.....Jayne

  7. Yes...probably should clarify, It is the weanlings who get the cuddle treatment i.e those over 6 months. We do also geld pet boys.

    On a serious note they do know who is boss unlike Tyke!

  8. Cuddles? Here? No siree, we are far too mighty for cuddles, they're not pets you know!

    Occasionally we do have full body contact, rummagey, claspy, husbandry checks.............. but that's different!