While I’ve been researching alpacas for our backyard homestead, I’ve often wondered if they like keeping cool in a small pool of water. But then I wondered if the fiber would be problematic for swimming – so I did more research.
Alpacas can swim and enjoy playing in the water, though too much water can negatively impact fiber quality. Alpacas particularly enjoy swimming and/or playing in the water when they need to keep cool. However, alpacas may also enjoy the water, swimming, and moderate amounts of rain in general.
Ready to learn about alpacas, swimming, wading, rain, and water in general? Keep reading – and I’ll share what I’ve learned in all of my research.
Alpacas Can Swim – and They Like Water!
When I first started researching this, I highly doubted that alpacas would like water. After all, wouldn’t all that fiber weigh them down – or at least make swimming too hard to be worthwhile?
As it turns out, alpacas can swim – and many of them enjoy it. All that fiber actually helps them swim better – though they don’t float well even if they haven’t been shaved recently. They’re just too lean to float well. But they can alpaca-paddle with the best of them.
However, just like people or dogs, not all alpacas like to swim. There is definitely still some room for an alpaca to have a personality in regards to swimming – and water in general. Some won’t like swimming all the way – and others will.
So even if your alpaca doesn’t like proper swimming, that’s okay. They may enjoy wading or splashing in the water. Some will wade while grazing while other alpacas will actually play in creeks, play pools, or water deep enough to swim in.
And if you think about where alpacas come from, it makes sense. Alpacas originally come from the Andes mountains – and there are a lot of high-altitude wetlands in their natural habitat. Apparently alpaca herders are a frontline monitoring system for making sure that irrigation doesn’t damage or drain those ecosystems too much. Pretty cool, huh?
So, when we consider where alpacas come from, then it only makes sense that alpacas are used to being in, around, and near water.
Now that’s one awesomely stylish alpaca. I wonder – does she go swimming in that lake every chance she gets?
Here’s video proof (courtesy of YouTube) that alpacas can swim – and that some of them even enjoy it!
Now, if you don’t have a pool (or a lake) in your backyard to take your alpacas swimming in, don’t worry. Even a small kiddie-sized swimming pool can be enough for your alpaca to “swim” in – or at least lay in to keep cool.
Check out this alpaca, who’s hanging out in a plastic swimming pool. I think the water needs to be changed out, though. It’s looking a little brown. That or that alpaca was a whole lot dirtier before playing in the small pool!
Now, just because alpacas can swim doesn’t mean they should do it all of the time. Keeping that gorgeous fiber in water all of the time is a recipe for a lower quality (or even rotted) fiber.
But let’s talk about whether alpacas can (and should) get wet now.
Can Alpacas Get Wet?
Alpacas won’t melt if they get wet. So yes, they can get wet. Will all alpacas want to get wet? No. Some alpacas prefer to stay dry. Most, however, don’t mind a little bit of water.
The determining factors are going to be the individual alpaca’s personality and what kind of water source we’re talking about.
If you’re spraying your alpaca down with a high-powered hose, for example, don’t be surprised if they try to run away. That’s too much. Try turning it way down – they might not mind it then. Let their reaction be your guide. Or skip the hose and use a misting system. Based on my research, many alpacas enjoy being misted – or even a gentle sprinkler system.
Even if you don’t have a misting system, though, most alpacas won’t mind getting a little bit wet from rain or dew. Here’s one such alpaca enjoying being a little bit wet – and grazing – after a spring rain.
However, you do need to keep in mind how wet your alpaca is going to get – because water will affect fiber quality. So if you’re raising your alpacas for their fiber, then you will need to balance how much water they’re playing in with the kind of fiber quality you’d like to harvest at the next shearing.
That’s not to say that you need to keep your alpaca completely dry all of the time. After all, many people prefer to wash their alpaca before shearing – it helps prevent the clippers from getting destroyed. For more information on grooming alpacas, read my complete list of do’s and don’ts right here.
But speaking of rain – let’s talk about if alpacas are okay in it – or if they’d rather seek shelter.
Are Alpacas OK in the Rain?
Alpacas are okay in some rains – they’re smart enough to know what they like and what they can’t handle. So if it’s raining? Make sure your alpacas have access to shelter in case they want it. Of course, you should always have some kind of a simple shelter (a three-sided shelter is ideal) accessible to your alpacas no matter the weather. And it should be big enough for your whole herd of alpacas and their giant personal bubbles. These animals like their personal space!
Alpacas may stay out if it’s a warm or gentle rain. They can be fine if it isn’t too bad. Here’s an example from YouTube – but watch it on mute. It’s all music – and it’s a bit over the top in my opinion. Even so, it’s cute seeing the alpacas enjoying their pasture despite the rain.
Now, if it’s a heavier or a cold rain, your alpacas may choose to seek shelter. Even alpacas don’t want to be wet and cold! And this is especially important if your herd has crias (baby alpacas) in it – the crias can develop life-threatening hypothermia in cold or heavy rains.
So if you’ve got a rainstorm coming in, go check on your alpacas – especially the babies! You may even want to bring the cries inside during a lighter rainstorm – even if the adults decide to enjoy being in the rain.
Here’s an example of a heavier rainstorm – and the two alpacas who found a less-than-usual source of shelter: the patio!
So while your alpacas may enjoy a rainstorm, make sure they’ve always got shelter options available. That way, your alpacas can stay safe, happy, and as dry (or wet) as they’d like to be during rainfall.
So while some of my original hypothesis ended up being false, it’s ok. Because I’ve learned a lot of valuable information about alpacas, water, rain, and swimming. So while we don’t have a pool to take our future alpacas swimming, I’ll at least know that keeping a misting system or a kiddie pool handy will make Utah summers more enjoyable.
And that way, I can also balance fiber care and quality for production, too. All while letting the alpacas enjoy some time in the water.
Can Alpacas Live in Hot Climates? Alpacas can live in hot climates as long as they’re given proper shelter and a chance to keep themselves cool in the shade. Heat stress can be a real concern, though it can be minimized with adequate care and preparation.
Do Alpacas Like to be Petted? Alpacas in general do not like to be petted. Alpacas that are close to their owners may enjoy being petted by their family members, though. Always ask the alpaca’s owner for permission before trying to pet an alpaca.
Can Alpacas Die from Loneliness? Alpacas are a herd animal and should ideally have at least 1-2 other alpacas in their herd. In a few instances, a single alpaca may be kept as a pet. Here is our practical guide to how many alpacas you should get.
Cite this article as: “Can Alpacas Swim? Do They like the Water?” Backyard Homestead HQ, 26 May 2020, backyardhomesteadhq.com/can-alpacas-swim-do-they-like-the-water/.
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders. 🙂
- “Can Alpacas Swim?” Alpacas of Montana, alpacasofmontana.com/blogs/alpacaoverview/can-alpacas-swim.
- Verzijl, Andres, and Silvano Guerrero Quispe. “The System Nobody Sees: Irrigated Wetland Management and Alpaca Herding in the Peruvian Andes.” Mountain Research and Development, International Mountain Society, bioone.org/journals/Mountain-Research-and-Development/volume-33/issue-3/MRD-JOURNAL-D-12-00123.1/The-System-Nobody-Sees–Irrigated-Wetland-Management-and-Alpaca/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-12-00123.1.full.