Endoparasites in Alpacas

Gastrointestinal strongyles are a massive problem in alpaca herds.

In the high altitudes of the Andes, strongyles have a hard time: Their development is hampered by the long dry season and low and strongly fluctuating temperatures. In our temperate latitudes with moist soils, the conditions for worms are better; maybe that’s why alpacas are infected more often in this country.

Survey of alpaca farmers

To investigate the occurrence and management of endoparasites in alpacas in Austria and Germany, questionnaires were distributed to the farms by associations and clubs. 65 keepers from Germany and 16 from Austria filled them out. Three-quarters of the owners indicated that gastrointestinal strongyles were a significant problem in their herds. In 79 percent of the farms, the alpacas were infested with gastrointestinal strongyles, especially the red stomach worm, Haemonchus (H.) contortus (15 percent). Mixed infections were common. Coccidia also occurred in 73 percent of the farms.

Animal losses due to H. contortus

In the previous year of the survey, 14 keepers had to lament the loss of a total of 29 animals due to endoparasitosis. Large companies were particularly affected. In these cases, the cause was mostly an infestation with H. contortus, sometimes associated with other endoparasites. The harmful effect of this parasite on alpacas must therefore be assessed as similar to or more serious than on goats.

Diagnostics and prophylaxis

Over 90 percent of the farms carried out fecal examinations, but the intervals varied greatly and the results were not always taken into account when deworming. The team from Vienna recommends examining stool samples two to four times a year and taking preventive measures based on the results. Regarding possible resistance, selective, targeted deworming is recommended and unmotivated changes in active ingredients should be avoided.

Frequently Asked Question

What diseases are typical in alpacas?

Gastrointestinal diseases are among the most common diseases in New World camelids. These primarily include enteritis, compartment acidosis, and the development of gastric or intestinal ulcers. The causes of enteritis can be infectious or non-infectious.

What helps against mites in alpacas?

Double treatment with ivermectin in a dosage of 0.2–0.4 mg/kg, s.c. at intervals of 14 days. It is known that preparations containing organophosphate are also used externally in animals infested with mites.

How are alpacas dewormed?

There are no special preparations for deworming alpacas, but preparations that are intended for small ruminants, for example, can be used.

Can alpacas transmit diseases?

In addition to worm infestations, alpacas can suffer from other parasitic diseases (ectoparasites such as mites) as well as viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.

How many teeth does an alpaca have?

Alpacas have four incisors in the lower jaw and a chewing plate in the upper jaw. The incisors grow back. In the home countries of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia or in the Andes, where the alpacas originally come from, the food supply is sparse.

Is the alpaca a ruminant?

Alpacas are ruminants but do not have multiple separate stomachs, just one stomach that has different sections. The coarsely pre-chewed food comes in the first area of the stomach. Here it is pre-digested and transported again and again into the mouth and chewed again there.

What do alpacas eat carrots?

Alpacas and llamas are very frugal when it comes to their diet. They only eat grass, hay, straw, and mineral feed. The animals cannot tolerate apples, carrots, and other fruits. So there is, unfortunately, no way to bring them something “good”.

What happens if you don’t shear alpacas?

There would be a risk of overheating (heat stroke). Therefore, shearing is an important required measure. Alpacas are bred for their fantastically fine fleece, which is why sharing is not only a care measure but also a harvest.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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