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Why do Alpacas Spit?

Sunday 19 June 2022

Most people know that alpacas are capable of spitting huge gobs of greeny fluid. Yet why do they do it? It certainly isn’t to simply clear their airways, but the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Alpacas spit for two main reasons, and both are ways to communicate something essential. If they could talk there would probably be a simple, polite request from an alpaca. As they cannot, spitting is about the only way that they can get a point across quickly and decidedly. It’s also a message easily understood by the recipient of the gooey salivary mess that is ejected from their mouths.

Alpaca Alpacas are not inveterate spitters. They are mostly a peaceful species and like nothing more than quietly grazing minding their own business and most definitely not sharing. This brings us to the first reason that alpacas spit – when they perceive that their own food is being taken from them by another then they tend to get a little agitated and the spitting will commence.

Why is food so important? A major part of any alpaca day is eating – they spend most of their waking hours munching away. Most of this is done peacefully and happily but woe betide any alpaca that is perceived to be making incursions on the food of another! The ears retract backwards and the lips slacken. At the same time the alpaca will emit a little noise – it’s hard to call it an alpaca “growl” even though that is effectively what it is – but this sounds like it’s an “eeeek”. These warning signs usually work- alpacas are bright and social animals. However, if the hint isn’t taken then the perceived food stealer will get a face full of green gob – basically saliva and regurgitated grass mixed with digestive fluid. Splat!

Andean Women and Alpacas 
The reason why so many people get spat upon by alpacas is that they do not recognise these signs. They are almost certainly not guilty of the crime of stealing the alpaca’s breakfast, lunch or dinner – but the alpaca, although bright, is driven by instinct. If an alpaca feels that its food is about to be stolen its expectoration time… bur this really is a last resort. The alpaca doesn’t feel smug or victorious after a well-aimed mouthful of spittle hits their “opponent” firmly in the face. The whole thing tastes horrible, and they avoid spitting as often as possible.

Animals of Peru 
 The spit smells revolting, and it can remain a pungent reminder of your close encounter with an alpaca for hours, especially if it gets on to your clothes or glasses.

So, what’s the other reason an alpaca might spit? Unsurprisingly, its when a female is pregnant. If a male makes advances towards her and isn’t giving up, then she will deliver a gob full of spit to his fluffy visage. That certainly ensures he gets the very clear message, and he will beat a hasty retreat!

Alpacas, Waitati New Zealand 
 This counts for humans too – and the alpaca will not be gender-specific. 

If you get too close to a pregnant alpaca – when you see and hear the warning signs, back away quickly. If not, you will receive the whole malodorous package and as there is not elite club for those who have been hit by alpaca hoick then our advice is to always err on the side of caution around this hyper salivatory camelid mammal.

Ecdysis: When Growing Up is More than Skin Deep

Sunday 12 June 2022

Many invertebrates go through a process called ecdysis.  Taken from the ancient Greek the word means, literally, to strip off.  It leaves behind an exuviae (often spelled with the final e omitted), the remains of the exoskeleton which has been shed, often with related structures still attached. For some invertebrates it can be a regular occurrence to facilitate growth.  For others it can be part of a series of instars which culminate in the emergence of the finished, adult form.  It is a fascinating process where beauty can be found in the grotesque. For these animals, however, the process of growing up is far more than simply skin deep.

Essentially, ecdysis is the molting of the cuticle, the tough multi-layered cover outside the epidermis that provides protection as an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton must be shed as it constrains growth. First, the cuticle separates from the epidermis – yet the arthropod remains inside for now - this is called apolysis. Next, a hormone called ecdysone is secreted from the epidermis. It fills the gap between the old cuticle and the epidermis which is known as the exuvial space. The enzymes in the hormone are not activated until a new epicuticle (the outermost waxy layer of the arthropod exoskeleton) is formed. Once this is done they kick in and the lower regions of the old cuticle are digested. Finally the process of molting can start.

5 App and Website Recommendations to Maintain Your Dog’s Health

Friday 10 June 2022

One of the best ways to keep your dog healthy is by using apps and websites to help your dog stay in its best shape. Apps and websites have continued to develop rapidly over the last few decades, and nowadays, there’s probably an app, website or another online resource you can use to keep your pets of all kinds safe and healthy. If you’re looking for the best ways to keep an eye on your dog’s health, here are five apps and websites that you can use to do just that.

1. Rover – Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

Rover is a very popular app that allows you to book individuals in your local neighborhood for pet sitting and dog walking. You can also find options for house sitting, doggy daycare and drop-in visits. You can read reviews from other pet owners in your area who have booked with the same individual, ensuring that your dog ends up in the best hands. Rover is primarily for dogs but also provides services for cats.

2. BringFido - Dog Travel

If you love traveling with your furry friend, BringFido is the website for you. With BringFido, you can find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and events worldwide. This way, you don’t have to worry whether or not your furry friend will be able to accompany you on your travels; you’ll know that they are. Plus, its network is constantly expanding, always bringing you the best information about dog-friendly events and services.

3. Dog Buddy – Virtual Diary

The Dog Buddy app is essentially a virtual diary for your dog. You can track veterinary visits, medications, vaccinations, allergies, weight and other information about your dog. That makes it easy for you to understand more about your dog’s health and well-being, as well as keep track of it over time.

4. FitBark – Health & Location

FitBark is both an app and a physical tool. It bills itself as the world’s “smallest and lightest dog GPS tracker.” You can purchase one of the FitBark models from the company’s website, then attach it to your dog’s collar. It can help you track your pet’s health, location and more, allowing you to tell if your furry friend has any health concerns you should bring up with your vet.

5. Vetster – Pet Telehealth

Telehealth is becoming a more popular way to get answers to health questions and also to help you when you’re not sure if you need urgent care right away. Book a pet telehealth appointment to get the help you need for your dog. If you’re looking to see a veterinarian, consider Vetster for online pet telehealth.

Use Your Phone to Take Care of Your Furry Friend

Apps and websites are a great way to stay on top of your dog’s health, no matter where you live or what conditions your dog may have. Whether you already have a super healthy dog that you’re just trying to take care of or you’re managing a dog’s existing health problems, these apps can help you stay on track and understand what’s happening with your dog’s health, keeping them happy and safe for years to come.

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