In their native land alpacas are on rocky mountain areas and eat very coarse grasses and weeds. There nature does a great job of keeping their teeth worn down and their toe nails worn down. Alpacas were created to be able to withstand that climate and location. Here in the United States we really baby our alpacas. They don't climb mountains or deal with rocky areas or coarse grasses. They walk on soft ground and we give them lush green hay that is soft and moist. This means that sometimes their toe nails and teeth grow longer than they would in their native climate. So, as part of our alpaca husbandry we need check and sometimes trim toe nails and/or teeth.
We check toe
nails each month, during our herd health day. Most of them only need
trimming every other month (this various greatly by farm and how it is
set up, we have a lot of sand and no concrete so their nails tend to
grow more than a farm that has a concrete barn floor and harder soil).
While they do sell specific alpaca nail trimmers, we use a pruning
They seem to work best for us and stay sharp longer than the actual nail trimmers that are sold.
routine is for me to hold the alpaca's head and neck, while J bends
over and says "foot" to grab each foot and trim the nail as needed.
Their nails are quite similar to a dog or cat's nails. A little clip
even with their foot pad (like a dog and cat have) is all that is
needed. Though just like dogs and cats, alpacas do have a vein going
through their nail and if you nip that, they will bleed a little. No
harm done, but it can look pretty ugly, so we really try to avoid doing
Here is a picture of the bottom of an alpaca's foot,
the two toes with pink pad then two nails coming off the front. These
nails are in need of trimming so that they are even with the foot pad.