Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mom and Cria Dynamics in the First 48 Hours of Life

Miss Marple (on left) and her mom, Dulcinea

The latest addition to Hum Sweet Hum is a sweet little girl cria.  She was born on Sunday and only 48 hours old.  It was a classic birth.  My first alpaca I purchased is her mother and she is a pro.  With minimal effort required from me, I get to be able to just observe their dynamics.  Dulcinea is an attentive mother.  The first 24 hours, while the baby was busy exploring her new environment, Dulcie ran after her to make sure she didn't get lost or into too much mischief.  This little girl is very active and inquisitive so Dulcie had to keep up with the little one.  I kept them in my barn area so it wasn't a huge area to run after the baby.  It was a rainy day too so I wanted to keep them near shelters.  I haven't had to do much other than put a cria coat on the baby and weigh her.  It has been Dulcinea who is doing all the work.  I have had the opportunity to just observe Dulcie's parenting. 

I named the cria Miss Marple.  She has markings and coloring that remind me of fudge marble ice cream.  She is also so incredibly inquisitive of her surroundings and quite confident for such a new little being.   Dulcie, like most dams, hum to their babies so the baby can learn their voice.  Each dam has her own unique hum that they sing to their babies.  Dulcie started about 24 hours before the baby was born to hum which gets the baby still in the womb to get to know her voice.  It is a stead hum for days as the baby learns who mom is.  I have several white animals and Miss Marple isn't always sure which white animal is mom.  It seems like she thinks that white animal should also provide her milk.  The other white alpacas have been quite patient with her nudging her gently away or dancing away.  She keeps trying to get to the milk bar but none are cooperating with her.  Only one have I seen get irritated with her and spit at her.  I noticed it wasn't a loaded spit though but air.  There was no green on the baby.  So it was a warning shot. 

The first 24 hours, Dulcie stayed within feet of the baby even if she was running about checking things out and testing her legs.  The next morning, Dulcie let the baby have a bit more freedom to explore without running after her.  Dulcie was busy eating some hay and goodies I had given her when the baby got into some mischief.  I could see her following another white female and I could tell she was thinking that was Dulcie.  I called to Dulcie to come get her baby because they were heading out into the big field.  I could see Dulcie watching but I wasn't sure if she saw that they were heading out all the way into the big field.  When I called Dulcie's name, she came running when I told her to come get her baby.  I could see the surprised look on Miss Marple's face as she saw mom coming to her and it was really quite cute when she looked up at the face of the female she had been walking with.  It looked as if she was wondering how mom could be in two places.  Mom is standing next to her AND running to her?  She didn't seem bothered by the confusion and simply followed the one that was humming at her. 

Later in the afternoon, Dulcie was teaching Miss Marple how to find her without Dulcie chasing her down.  She was watching her from the shelter and hay bin but she let Miss Marple run around a bit and then try and figure out where mom was.  I could hear Dulcie humming to the baby but she waited to see if Miss Marple could figure out where she was.  The day before or earlier that morning, Dulcie would have run after Miss Marple but this lesson was teaching the baby to find mom on her own.  She went up to several white animals and got the message that they were not mom.  She wasn't afraid but seemed to be having fun looking around.  She checked out a lot of the barn area and then she got into the right spot to spy mom and I could see her body language change and she trotted over to mom and snuffled her side.  Mom bent down and sniffed her tush and gently pushed her towards the milk source.  Miss Marple had a little drink and laid down tired after her big exploration. 

I was so impressed with Dulcie and how she is parenting this little girl.  She watches her like a hawk but is not so overly protective that she is making the baby fearful of her environment.  On the contrary.  Dulcie has been giving the baby lessons that it is ok to go out and run a little and play but come when called and she is teaching her how to find mommy on her own.  It's going to be fun watching their dynamics and how Dulcie teaches Miss Marple the ways of alpacas and being a member of the herd at Hum Sweet Hum.

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