If you’re looking into getting an alpaca, or even if you’re just going to be visiting one, you should probably make sure you know what alpacas eat. Like most animals, feeding an alpaca a treat can be fun for kids and adults alike, but it’s important to take the alpaca’s nutrition into consideration as well.
Alpacas Eat Grass
Both in the wild and when domesticated, alpacas are foragers that love to graze on various grasses. When there isn’t enough grass, their diet is made up of grass hay. They can eat alfalfa hay as well, but should only do so in small quantities due to its high protein content.
Alpacas are psuedo-ruminants, which means they have one stomach but three different compartments to break down cellulose. This gives them similar (though not identical) digestive properties to other ruminants, including cud-chewing. When an animal chews cud, they regurgitate partially digested grass for a second chewing. This not only helps them break the food down more, but it also helps them absorb as many nutrients as possible.
What Do Alpacas Like As Treats?
Everyone loves a treat, and alpacas are no different. If you want to give your alpaca something special, try feeding them some fruits and vegetables. Apples, broccoli, and carrots are all good options, as long as you give them small enough pieces that they can chew them without choking. There are also premade alpaca pellets and treats that you can buy from most farm & ranch supply stores.
Why Do Alpacas Chew On Things?
If you’ve seen an alpaca chewing on something that isn’t food (like the picture above), there could be several reasons. Of course, they could just be bored, but it may also be an indication of a mineral deficiency. For example, if an alpaca is chewing on a lot of metal, they may be trying to make up for a zinc deficiency. This can be combated by adding supplements to their food, or by providing mineral blocks for them.