I’m a big fan of alpacas, and I occasionally research some information about them so I can build up my alpaca knowledge. This time, I was curious to find out what food and treats from the garden alpacas can eat. So, I compiled a list of the dos and don’ts when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
Alpacas can eat many fruits and vegetables, including but not limited to apples, bananas, beets, carrots, celery, grapes, green beans, pineapples, sweet potato, and watermelon. As with any new food, these should be provided as bite-sized treats in moderation to prevent any digestive issues.
With so many options, you may be wondering how to decide which healthy treat is best for your alpacas. What are the nutrients and health benefits that each one provides? And are there certain foods you should avoid? Let’s figure out which snack is best for your alpaca!
Fruit that Alpacas Can Eat
Alpacas enjoy many fruits such as apples, bananas, grapes, pineapples, and watermelon. These healthy snacks are a rich source of nutrients and minerals that are usually absent from forage. Along with the high moisture content, the vitamins in fruit promote growth and development and help your alpaca mature faster.
Be sure to provide fruit in small pieces and amounts to prevent any choking or health concerns.
Apples are a popular choice for alpacas and have been tried and tested by many owners. This snack should be cut up to prevent your animal from choking and reduce any bloating.
Along with their yummy taste, apples are rich in essential nutrients like potassium and polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds that provide numerous health benefits such as improved digestion and brain health.
Also, apples are full of carbohydrates and fibers. They provide a good source of energy, balanced nutrition, and promote good bacteria in the gut.
Alpacas love bananas because they are soft and easy to chew. This healthy snack also is a good source of vitamins such as Vitamin B and C. The high levels of water make bananas easy to digest while the fiber supports a healthy rumen.
Bananas are a simple, neutral way to add calories and provide a good source of carbohydrates and simple sugars for your alpacas.
Grapes provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals to help keep your alpaca healthy. While this fruit is easy to chew and has limited seeds, some alpacas don’t like the sour flavor.
Grapes have high proportions of Vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants. These compounds help prevent chronic diseases, lower inflammation, and improve connective tissue. These antioxidants are most common in the seeds and skin of grapes, but alpacas can eat the entire plant including the grapevine.
Grapes also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, components that protect alpaca’s eyes from blue light.
Pineapples are another fruit that is commonly given to alpacas for their high vitamin and mineral content. They are a good source of Vitamin A which is good for the reproductive system, skin, and eyes.
Pineapples also contain decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese which alpacas do not usually get through their diet. These minerals are needed to produce milk and help develop muscles, teeth, and bones.
Finally, pineapples are a rich source of Vitamin E which will boost alpacas’ immune systems. It is important to use this fruit as a treat in moderation and to avoid canned pineapple to avoid excess sugar.
Watermelon is a great way to introduce nutrients into an alpaca’s diet while also keeping them well-hydrated. This healthy treat contains Vitamins A, B, C, and potassium which are important parts of a healthy diet.
Although the seeds can be hard to digest, alpacas can eat the rinds and vines of watermelons for a good source of fiber. True to the name, this fruit is mostly water, containing over 90%.
Watermelon is a good snack for alpacas in the summer when you want to make sure they’re getting enough hydration.
Vegetables that Alpacas Can Eat
Similar to fruit, vegetables are a great supplement to provide your alpaca with additional vitamins and minerals. Alpacas will enjoy a wide variety of veggies including beets, carrots, celery, green beans, and sweet potatoes.
Introduce any new treats into your alpaca’s diet slowly to limit any digestive issues.
Beets are a favorite for pregnant and nursing alpacas due to their delicious taste. These vegetables are low in calories while also being high in valuable vitamins and minerals. They contain high proportions of Vitamins C, B6, Folate, manganese, and potassium.
Beets are a good source of digestible fiber which can help the alpaca gain weight if desired.
Also, these make a good treat for the owner too because they are inexpensive, easy to store, and a good supplement to a normal diet.
Carrots are a great source of nutrients such as carotene, Vitamins A, B, C, and potassium. They provide a good source of energy and fiber to promote healthy stomach function.
Also, the carotenoids protect eye and cardiovascular health for your animal. Alpacas will enjoy the crunch and the taste of carrots, especially shredded carrots which are the easiest to chew.
Alpacas also enjoy celery, a rich source of minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Celery also has plenty of antioxidants, a substance required by animals and humans alike. These nutrients lead to improved bone health and overall fitness for alpacas.
Celery contains furocoumarins which can lead to sun sensitivity. As long as celery is fed in moderation, just like any other vegetable, your alpaca will stay healthy.
Fresh green beans make a tasty treat for alpacas! High-protein vegetables such as green beans help develop bones, organs, and muscles.
Green beans are also high in Vitamins A, C, folate, and manganese. Folate is a B vitamin that helps to prevent any birth defects whereas manganese helps to support quick healing.
Sweet potatoes are a great supplement to an alpaca’s diet. Along with being rich in Vitamins A, B6, C, manganese, and potassium, they provide additional benefits whether they are fed cooked or raw. They provide liver support when they are uncooked and can help to fatten up any alpacas when cooked.
Sweet potatoes can also help improve protection against disease and overall health.
5 Foods that Alpacas Should Not Eat
While fruits and vegetables provide additional nutrients and health benefits, others will lead to serious health problems. Some foods that alpacas should not eat include avocados, cherries, corn, mustard vegetables, or nightshade vegetables.
Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin known as persin inside the leaves, pit, and fruit. As a modified ruminant, alpaca’s stomachs cannot easily dissolve this toxin. Eating avocados can lead to symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, respiratory irritation, and a swollen head and neck.
Alpacas are susceptible to cyanide poisoning which can happen after eating cherries. Although this is most common with wilted leaves, sprouts, seeds, and twigs are also dangerous for alpacas.
Additionally, black cherry leaves can be toxic. These materials contain amygdalin, which breaks down to form cyanide after the alpaca digests it.
In large amounts, corn can cause a spike in sugar levels and even diabetes for alpacas. Additionally, if there is a drought or other kind of stressor, the plant will produce additional nitrate. These levels will be the highest in the stem and leaves and can cause nitrate poisoning.
In alpacas, this disease appears in the form of reproductive and lactation issues, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.
The mustard vegetable family should be avoided as a treat for alpacas. This includes broccoli florets, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnips. These vegetables contain small amounts of sulfur which interferes with the red blood cells’ ability to transport oxygen.
If an alpaca eats large quantities of mustard vegetables, it can face respiratory and intestinal distress or an increased heart rate.
Alpacas should also stay away from nightshade plants such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant. These foods contain alkaloids that have steroidal properties and can poison the alpacas. Excess alkaloid can result in lethargy, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. These fruits and tubers become even more lethal when they begin to rot.
For more information about what to feed alpacas, check out my other post: the complete guide to feeding llamas and alpacas.
Now that you have a good understanding of what fruits and vegetables are safe for alpacas, feel free to enjoy this video of alpacas eating one of their favorite treats!