An alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance but is way cuter.
Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. “Spit” is somewhat euphemistic; occasionally the projectile contains only air and a little saliva, although alpacas commonly bring up acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and project it onto their chosen targets. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will occasionally spit at a human.
For alpacas, spitting results in what is called “sour mouth”. Sour mouth is characterized by a loose-hanging lower lip and a gaping mouth. This is caused by the stomach acids and unpleasant taste of the contents as they pass out of the mouth.
Alpacas use a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. This behaviour tends to limit the spread of internal parasites. Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females, which tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and begins to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd often follows.
Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.
Alpacas have a three-chambered stomach; combined with chewing cud, this allows maximum extraction of nutrients from low-quality forages.
Alpacas will chew their food in a figure eight motion, swallow the food, and then pass it into one of the stomach’s chambers. The first and second chambers are where the fermentation process begins digestion. The alpaca will further absorb nutrients and water in the first part of the third chamber. The end of the third chamber is where the stomach secretes acids to digest food, and is the likely place where an alpaca will have ulcers, if stressed. The alpaca digestive system is very sensitive and must be kept healthy and balanced.