Caring for a Frail Baby Alpaca

A newborn alpaca, known as a cria, can be as frail as it is charming.

Crias are often weak due to a number of different circumstances; for instance, a cria may be born in an awkward position, and its limbs may get tangled up during delivery. Sometimes a cria doesn’t get the milk it needs — often due to an unwilling mother — and is deprived of vital nutrients and antibodies, thus becoming severely weakened. Other times, a cria is simply born small and fragile — and with very little body fat, the animal can become cold much more easily and often cannot nurse. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help care for a frail cria, as outlined below.

Keeping Your Cria Warm

Moderating temperature is one of the most important tasks to help your cria grow up healthy. First and foremost, a cria must be kept warm, as many frail crias cannot regulate their own body warmth. Keep your cria warm by covering it with blankets, cuddling with it, and ensuring its bedding area is warm and cozy. You can also surround the cria with hot water bottles and safely placed space heaters. Keep your cria with the dam (the mother) and/or siblings if possible — this is beneficial for more than just warmth.

Feeding Your Cria

It’s unfortunate, but some cria are not allowed access to their mothers’ milk due to their frailty. This must be remedied to achieve healthiness; your frail cria requires special attention to what it eats and how often. It’s important to talk to your talk to your veterinarian about what kind of food is best for your baby alpaca. Above all, make sure that the food you are feeding it is formulated for crias, as they need extra nutrients to help them grow. There are crias who need an extra burst of energy — for one such as this, give it two teaspoons of glucose in 60 milliliters (or about two ounces) of warm water.

Socializing Your Cria

A frail cria should never be raised away from other alpaca. The dam and the cria should have time alone together to form a bond. This is important from the beginning, and the frail cria should spend a lot of time socializing daily, as the more crias spend time with the rest of their herd, the more they are much more comfortable and in better health.

As for nutrition and other issues, consult your veterinarian regarding your cria’s specific needs and to learn more about how to provide proper care to raise the healthiest alpaca possible.

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