So, alpaca feet are a little different. They have two toes and they have long nails associated with those toes. And then the toes kind of merge into a little bit of web, but it merges into a flat, but fleshy pad, quite like a dog’s paw,
It’s quite distinct. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s not like a sheep’s foot where you have the hard hoof, so these are soft.
They spread the weight. Now, occasionally you’ll get stood on – no fairly regularly you’ll get stood on. So you’ll feel the weight of the alpaca. And you’ll be glad that they’ve got a soft foot. It’s still quite heavy and still quite a definite feeling through your Wellington boots or whatever you’re wearing.
The other thing is that you will occasionally get caught with a kick. If you’re standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, then the leg flies back and you get caught. The advantage, therefore of it being a pad is that you don’t get as much damage. It’s still gonna end up bruised.
It will bruise, but it’s not as much physical damage as you could get from a hoof, from a horse or a cow or even a sheep.
So yeah, the question then is. How to look after them. I guess sometimes you notice there’s a slight limp or something. Sometimes it’s a physical injury of the leg rather than the foot, but sometimes there’s a problem because they are soft fleshy, quite tough though, but they can get a thorn or something, or a cut, which gives an infection in the foot. So that’s something to watch out for.
The other thing big thing really to watch out for is between the toes. It can become a bit of a trap point for mud, for grass seeds, for bits and pieces, but also it’s quite closed in and therefore it can be kind of moist.
So you kind of get a bit fungal growth there. You can get a bit of other stuff going on and it’s just a bit smelly, horrible, So occasionally you might need to give a bit of a clean, but it’ll wash out. I tend to use an antiseptic cleaning solution. Called Hibiscrub, which is both strong enough and gently enough and can be diluted as necessary. It’s also worth checking for any signs of mites here.
Of course, the default position is going to be that they don’t really want you picking up their feet and examining them. So you may need to do some desensitizing work here, which is kind of taking hold gradually, getting them familiar with being touched and with you lifting a foot.
So be careful and work slowly. I think that’s probably my best advice on that one.
Going back to when we started and that first seeing of a footprint, do you know, it still gives me a lovely sense of satisfaction to see alpaca footprints around. I just love it.
So do give them a check-out don’t overdo it and don’t force them but do give them a checkout.