I've been trying to figure out how to tell this story. It's always easier to tell a difficult story when you have learned the lessons that are being taught. In this case, I am still figuring it out.
Just over two weeks ago, one of my alpacas attacked me.
He jumped on me while I was haltering him. He pinned me 4 times. I pinned him once. While he had me down, he bit me several times; on the face, ankles, legs and backside. The duration is fuzzy, but we wrestled for quite some time. This alpaca had decided that I was a threat to his territory.
This is the first time in my life I had ever been in a physical fight. I have no idea why he stopped.
Now that I've had the distance to think more clearly and do some research, I realize that this alpaca had all of the signs of Aberrant Behavior Syndrome (ABS) or as it used to be called, Berserk Male Syndrome. This alpaca was friendly from the first day I met him. He was the first to the fence when we visited the farm. He was in the way when chores were being done. He would pull my pony tail if I spent too much time paying attention to other alpacas. So when the ranchers offered him to us in a package, we accepted. I didn't know any better. I don't blame the selling ranch. I don't think they knew.
I have not been able to find a lot of information on ABS. What I have found relates to stopping it in juveniles as soon as they begin to exhibit the behavior. Unfortunately, this alpaca was an adult when we met him and is 4 1/2 years old now. He is proven and conveys is luster and volume to his cria.
I was injured from the attack, but fortunately nothing was broken and no stitches were required.
My husband and I went through a lot of emotions as we discussed options for how to remedy the situation. We spoke with a couple of breeders and our vet. We decided to geld this alpaca and work to improve his behavior.
We keep this alpaca with the big boys. I am able to handle, feed and muck all of the other alpacas we have.
We have been working with him a little each day. Initially, with the aid of a tennis racquet I have been making myself much bigger, from the safety of outside the corral.
A couple of days ago, I felt comfortable enough to help my husband with the mucking chores, but always with one eye on the alpaca.
Finally yesterday, I fed them. My husband was there, but I did the feeding. I feel like this is a huge accomplishment. It will still be a while before I am comfortable enough to be in the corral with this alpaca alone, but we are making a lot of progress.