Generally speaking, alpacas are not dangerous. They are docile herbivores with a timid disposition and almost no natural aggression. You don’t need to be concerned about you or your family’s safety around alpacas.
We’ve scoured the internet (and talked to several of our alpaca-owning friends) and cannot find a single recorded instance of someone being killed by an alpaca – even very small children! In fact, any injuries you’re likely to sustain from an alpaca are comparable to the injuries you may get from your average 8-year-old: bites, small bruises from being kicked, and the natural ego injuries that result from being spit and/or thrown up on.
That being said, like most animals, you should still be aware, respectful, and cautious around alpacas. Just because they won’t kill you doesn’t mean they don’t have any defense mechanisms, and knowing their danger signs can definitely save you some discomfort. So let’s take a look at some of the ways alpacas can be even just a little bit dangerous, and what to do if you find yourself in any of these situations.
Like llamas, alpacas can spit up to 10 feet. When under great duress, their spit consists almost entirely of vomit (yep, including stomach acid) and can be somewhat caustic. Again, it isn’t going to kill you, but you should clean it off your skin as quickly as possible. And definitely avoid getting it in your eyes.
Many people don’t know it, but alpacas have very sharp canines in the back of their mouths called fighting teeth. These teeth are used in dominance battles and can do some serious damage. Luckily, we haven’t heard of any instances of alpacas using their fighting teeth on humans, and many alpaca owners will remove or file down their alpacas’ fighting teeth to prevent them from hurting each other. But it is something to be aware of before you put your hand near an alpaca’s mouth.
At first glance, it looks like alpacas have normal hooves just like sheep and goats. But in reality, they actually have two soft toes with large toenails (which are what give the impression of having hooves.) Their lack of sharp hooves means their kick doesn’t pack nearly the punch that a similarly sized animal like a sheep’s would. That being said, if you find yourself on the receiving end of an alpaca kick, you’ll still probably end up with a few bruises.
So to summarize, if you have an angry alpaca on your hands, you may face mildly painful/irritating spitting, kicking, and biting. And those only from a particularly aggressive individual, in most cases. If you aren’t afraid of 8-year-olds, you probably shouldn’t be afraid of alpacas.