Alpacas can’t bite. They have front teeth on their bottom gums only. They also only have a dental pad on the top, similar to cattle. Therefore, they cannot bite you with two sets of teeth like a horse could, for instance.

Due to their missing teeth, these animals do not typically try biting as their first sign of defense. Instead, they spit, though they rarely do this at people. It is more of their way of communicating with other alpacas, though you may get caught in the cross-fire.

Alpacas are generally considered safe animals. Besides not biting, they are quite small and do not have hooves. Therefore, they do not have extremely dangerous kicks like other, larger livestock, such as horses. They don’t have horns or anything else that they can defend themselves with either.

In fact, alpacas are extremely defenseless, despite their spirited personalities. You cannot keep them with sheep or goats, for instance, as they will get bullied.


Can Alpacas Attack Humans?

Alpacas can attack humans if they really want to, but this is exceedingly rare and often not serious. Even if an alpaca does bite you, it won’t do much damage. Therefore, they are often considered harmless even when they are being difficult.

Biting is often considered attention-seeking behavior, not something aggressive. Compared to other livestock, these animals are quite laidback and unable to do much harm.

Alpacas do not have any of the “weapons” that other livestock animals often have. For instance, they don’t have teeth, horns, hooves, or claws. It is quite surprising that alpacas have survived for as long as they have!

Training and socializing them at a young age can prevent these animals from becoming scared and potentially aggressive. A calm and laidback alpaca is easier to take care of, even if these animals cannot do much when they are upset.

three alpacas
Image Credit: kasjanf, Pixabay

Can Alpacas Be Aggressive?

Just like any other animal, alpacas can get dangerous. However, this happens rarely. When they do become aggressive, they can’t do much.

That said, you don’t want an animal that is aggressive, as they can be hard to care for. Imagine trying to shear an aggressive alpaca! Even if they can’t do you much harm, it will make the process much more difficult than it would be otherwise. For this reason, we highly recommend responding properly to alpacas that are trying to be aggressive, to discourage the behavior.

That’s why it is essential to understand an alpaca’s potentially aggressive behaviors.

Aggressive Behaviors in Alpacas

Alpacas may act aggressively in ways that you may not recognize at first. For instance, the first signs of aggression are rubbing, leaning, and sticking their nose toward you. These are all invasions of space, which would be seen as aggression by other alpacas.

However, as people, we tend to misinterpret these signs as affection. But while alpacas can be affectionate, they usually don’t do it in a way that involves invading your space. If you allow these behaviors to continue, they can escalate quickly.

Spitting should not occur regularly and should not be done toward people. Play fighting is common with young alpacas (crias) and may involve biting. However, these bites should not do any actual damage. Some alpacas will try to playfight with people, but this behavior should be corrected by removing yourself from the area.

Crias will attempt to playfight with people until they learn better.

Kicking can sometimes be normal behavior. Alpacas will often kick if they are surprised or frightened. Therefore, you should never try to sneak up on them.  Kicking can also occur when predators are around, though this isn’t a bad thing. They should not be kicking all the time, though. If they are, you may need to recondition your alpaca.

Charging at other alpacas can occur, especially if there are breeding rights on the line or resources seem scarce (even if they aren’t, as alpacas don’t know that you have a barn full of hay). To fix this situation, increase the number of resources or separate the animals until breeding tensions have lowered.

However, you should also recognize when alpacas are using charging to make a younger, unruly alpaca behave. This is normal and shouldn’t be punished.

Actual, physical confrontation should only occur when the animals are playfighting or then they are fighting for breeding rights. If it is aimed at people, it is a sign that the alpaca thinks that you are part of the herd, which is not a good thing. It may be a sign that the animals are receiving too much human interaction.

grey alpaca in the meadow
Image Credit: ELG21, Pixabay

Reconditioning Aggressive Alpacas

If one of your alpacas is aggressive, you should recondition them. These animals are quite smart, so you should have no problem re-training them as necessary. Preferably, you should prevent these behaviors from being performed altogether.

The best cure for an aggressive alpaca is other alpacas. When the aggressive alpaca is outnumbered by others in a herd, they will find it difficult to exhibit their aggressive behaviors. If they do, the others will chase them away from the herd, food, and shelter. Therefore, the alpaca quickly learns to fix their behavior to re-access food and other resources.

For this reason, it is often best to purchase at least three alpacas. Even if one tries to be aggressive, the other two will set them right.

Sex issues can lead to these problems too. A male cria being raised by a female herd may become unruly if they are not set in their place often enough.

If you only have one alpaca and they are becoming aggressive, speak to other owners and ask if your alpaca can be temporarily sent to a herd that will set them straight.

There are a few implementations that you can try yourself, such as using a squirt gun to simulate spitting behaviors.

alpaca eating pellets
Image Credit: Piqsels

divider-llama Conclusion

Alpacas are not often aggressive. They tend to be rather laidback, especially when they are raised by a large herd that makes them behave. Even if they are aggressive, they can’t do much damage. They have no teeth, horns, or hooves. They are much smaller than most other livestock animals, so trampling isn’t typically possible either.

However, alpacas may sometimes develop aggressive behaviors, especially if a male alpaca is being raised by themselves or in an all-female herd. In these cases, they may need to temporarily be placed in a herd with other males, which will teach the alpaca how to behave correctly.

Usually, these behaviors aren’t targeted at humans. However, you don’t want an aggressive male alpaca challenging and bulling small females either. It is always best to stop these behaviors before they become serious.

Featured Image Credit: gabio, Pixabay