Yes, but they don’t usually mean to get you! The most common reason is another alpaca is trying to pinch their food. Mostly it happens like this:
- Timi takes a mouthful of food from the bucket,
- CJ tries to help himself to Timi’s bucket.
- Timi spits at CJ to warn him off;
- I’m standing the other side of the fence filling buckets and end up with a bra full of alpaca food.
Spitting always seems a silly idea to me because they end up spitting out the food they are trying to protect.
There are three stages of spitting.
- Air spit (plus whatever was in their mouth at the time). This is just a warning shot.
- Proper spit which is a bit wet and means they are really, quite annoyed now.
- Full on stinky, green slimy pea soup exorcist time means they are now extremely hacked off and someone is going to get it. Trust me it really, really, …really stinks.
We had one old girl who hated shearing, she would bring up the foul green gunge to express her displease at the experience. The only other time I have seen the green gunge attack was the day we collected the herd. There was a crow on the fence. The crow must have said something rude because one of the boys spat straight at the crow; knocked him right off his perch!
The green spit is grass or hay regurgitated up from their stomach. You do get a warning; if their ears are back and their nose is raised in the air look out and back off.
You can always tell if an alpaca has been spitting a lot because afterwards they end up with a droopy bottom lip and drooling. Also known as “spitty mouth”. You know that feeling after the dentist when the anaesthetic is wearing off and your lips feel all fuzzy and floppy. It’s like that. The consequence being that once Timi has seen CJ off his bucket, he can no longer move his mouth properly to eat the food he has been protecting. He then spends 5 mins shaking his head trying to get the feeling back into his mouth.
Spitting is also part of the mating process, believe it or not. Once an alpaca is pregnant, she will no longer be interested in the attentions of any boy, even if he looks like Chris Hemsworth. If the boy attempts to mate with the pregnant girl she will spit at him till he goes away, the “spit off”. Telling the boy it doesn’t matter that its 3am and the club is about to close, he is NOT going home with her. Breeders often use the fact that pregnant girls spit off to indicate which girls have been successfully mated.
So, if an alpaca is eyeballing you with their ears back and head raised, you’d better apologise and run for cover because it is about to rain, or they are pregnant…