Can you Keep Alpacas in Your Backyard?

I know that we all love our backyards. They are spacious, filled with grass, and are great places to play with kids. We grill, cookout, and host parties in our backyards. We all know that a backyard is a great place for household activities. But many families and individuals want to know if they can keep livestock in their backyard. They also wonder about exotic animals. So, can you keep alpacas in your backyard?

There are several key areas to think about when considering whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard:

  • International laws generally allow you to keep alpacas in your backyard
  • Federal laws generally allow you to keep alpacas in your backyard
  • State laws generally allow you to keep alpacas in your backyard
  • Local laws may allow you to keep alpacas in your backyard
  • Other laws will also influence whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard

In this article, I will help you discover whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard by discussing international, federal, state, and local laws. In addition, I will discuss some key information about alpacas that will help you as you care for them.

Is it Legal To Keep Alpacas in Your Backyard? Discussion of Laws

The first step to discovering whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard is to understand the types of laws that relate to alpacas and your backyard. Once you know these laws, you will be able to have a firm answer to whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard.

How International Laws Relate to Alpacas in Your Backyard

International law governs relations between nations.

  • International law is generally written by big institutions like the United Nations or NATO.
  • These organizations generally care about endangered (rare) animals.
  • These animals include lions, tigers, and panda bears. These animals are threatened with extinction. Because of this threat, governments want to preserve the animals through legislation, which would ensure that they can survive for future generations.
  • Because international law governs animals, it is important to know whether alpacas are protected animals.

Fortunately, alpacas are not protected animals under international law. Thus, it is not illegal to keep alpacas in your backyard.

How Federal Laws Relate to Alpacas in Your Backyard

Federal law governs individual states within the United States.

  • Federal law also applies to individual citizens within the United States.
  • Federal law also has provisions about animals. Much like international law, these provisions often apply to rare animals.
  • In the United States, such animals include bears, eagles, and certain rodents.
  • However, in the United States, alpacas are not endangered or rare animals.
  • Thus, because they are not endangered, alpacas are not protected by federal law.
  • It is not illegal to keep alpacas in your backyard under national law.

However, it may be illegal to keep alpacas in your backyard if you have a small backyard. The federal government does have rules against animal cruelty, which mean that you cannot keep an animal in a tiny space. If you have a backyard the size of a shoebox, federal law may prohibit you from keeping alpacas in your backyard.

How State Laws Relate to Alpacas in Your Backyard

State law is a primary determinate of whether or not you can keep alpacas in your backyard.

  • Unlike federal law, many states do have laws on whether or not you can keep large animals in your backyard.
  • Because many states have different rules, it is important to check the rules in your particular state.
  • However, generally speaking, it is never illegal to keep large animals like alpacas in your backyard.
  • State laws do not subvert federal law, however, so you should make sure that you do not accidentally treat an animal poorly and thus break an animal cruelty law.
  • In addition, you should make sure that you are not breaking a state law in owning an exotic type of alpaca.

While the act of keeping an alpaca in your backyard may be legal in your state, you should make sure that your alpaca is medically tested and in good health.

How Local Laws Relate to Alpacas in Your Backyard

Local law, like state law, is a primary determinate of whether or not you can shoot keep alpacas in your backyard.

  • Unlike state law, local law is the most restrictive. Some cities do not allow residents to have alpacas within city limits.
  • However, if you live in the suburbs and not in the city, local law is less restrictive.
  • While it is important to determine if your particular local law allows you to keep alpacas in your backyard, generally speaking, rural and suburban areas have relaxed animal laws.
  • These relaxed laws may indicate that you can keep alpacas in your backyard.

How Other Laws Relate to Alpacas in Your Backyard

Some areas, like Indian reservations, have special sets of laws that may affect whether or not it is illegal to keep alpacas in your backyard.

  • Unlike state and local laws, reservations have specialized legal procedures that are difficult and highly specific.
  • However, generally speaking, reservations have laws that allow animals to be kept in your backyard.
  • On many reservations and in special legal areas, it is perfectly legal to keep alpacas in your backyard.

Although alpacas may live under a variety of jurisdictions, generally speaking, it is not illegal to keep alpacas in your backyard.

Conclusion

In many areas, it is perfectly legal to keep alpacas in your backyard. International Law, Federal Law, State Law, and Local law generally allows for large livestock like alpacas to live in residential areas. Of course, it is important for you to check with your local jurisdiction before buying an alpaca.

How to find reputable breeders for Alpacas?

Now that you have a clear idea of whether or not it is legal to keep alpacas in your backyard, it is important to think about how you can get alpacas. Many individuals who own alpacas inherited their herds and animals from relatives, or otherwise have family in the alpaca business. If this is you, skip to the next section. If not, read on below!

Consider using an internet search engine: Sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing can help you locate reputable alpaca dealers in your own neighborhood. Then, make sure to read lots of customer reviews. You may want to talk to other alpaca owners in your vicinity to that you can ask them where they got their animals. Doing so will help make sure that you are never taken advantage of, and that you are able to obtain only high-quality alpacas.

Check on the health of an alpaca at a given breeder: Check their teeth, their demeanor, and their ability to play well with others. If the alpacas are in bad shape or are angry, it probably means that the breeder is disrespectful and takes bad care of the animals. If that is true, watch out!

Ask owners who have alpacas where they got their animals: The best way to get the name of a reputable breeder is to ask a friend who has alpacas! If you know someone with animals already, simply ask them where they purchased their animal.

What is the Minimum Size Backyard Needed for Alpacas?

Many people keep alpacas in all types of backyards. Some have streams. Others have hills. Still, others have flat planes our lots of mud. However, the key factor in keeping alpacas in the backyard is not topography, but size. It is important that your backyard is the right size for alpacas. If it is too small, then you will get into trouble with the government, with your homeowner’s association, and with your neighbors.

You need a backyard of one acre for every five animals that you have: To put it another way, each alpaca needs 0.2 acres to comfortably live life. While this may seem like a small amount of land, 0.2 acres is actually quite large. What’s more, you need to make sure that this land is a fence in, has water and food sources, and does not get too hot or too cold. For this reason, you should carefully measure to make sure that the backyard is neither too small nor too large.

If your backyard is too small, you will stress out your alpacas: They will become unruly, running in place, running into fences, and picking fights. These animals will be loud and annoying. Similarly, if your backyard is too large, your animals may get lost or injured. The last thing you would want is for your animals to fall into a ditch or hole out of your line of site and get stuck. Alpacas are expensive, after all, and you wouldn’t want your money to go to waste.

For best results, stick with 0.2 acres per animal: If you have 0.2 acres per animal, your backyard will be the perfect size for an alpaca. This ensures that the alpacas have the space they need to run, to walk, to play, to sit, and to lie down. It gives them a high quality of life.

What do Alpacas Eat?

Alpacas eat a large variety of foods. They mainly eat grass, hay, or weeds. They obtain this food by grazing in the backyard, or on open plains. Thus, their food is fairly low cost—it comes out of the ground, after all. This food is easy to obtain, cheap, efficient to grow, and widely available at local stores in almost every area of the country.

Alpacas will also eat more exotic plant substances: including roots and tubers. However, these items can be difficult for a grown or baby alpaca to digest, so it is generally best to keep the alpacas on a diet of grass, hay, and weeds. That way, your animals will continue to be in tip-top shape and stay around for generations.

Alpacas only eat plants: Some people think that alpacas eat meat. However, this is wrong. Alpacas are not carnivores. They are herbivores, meaning they eat only plant substances. So, not to worry. The alpacas will not pose a danger of eating your cats and dogs.

Health & Veterinary Care Needs of Alpacas

Because alpacas are large animals, they do require fairly extensive levels of health and veterinary care needs. This care includes everything from dentistry, to shots, to hoof treatments, to fur grooming, to care for babies. As you might imagine, all of these healthcare options are quite expensive. Alpacas are large animals, after all, and require almost the amount of care that a full-grown adult human does.

An alpaca requires grooming care: While many would assume that such care is not “health care,” alpacas require regular grooming for maximum productivity and for quality-of-life. If you keep your alpacas in a hot part of the country, they will likely need to be groomed even more than you might think. Similarly, alpacas also require their hooves to be treated on a regular basis. This item, seemingly small, can play a critical difference in improving the quality of life of a particular animal.

Perhaps the biggest area of healthcare concern for alpacas is husbandry: Alpacas are living creatures, after all, and thus they reproduce. Pregnant alpacas require checkups, and baby alpacas need shots and regular care. In addition, owners need to make sure that their broods are able to get the nutrients they need to live long and healthy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backyard Alpacas

Do you have some questions about your alpacas? If you do, you are in the right place. We’ve taken the time to outline a few key questions about alpacas so that you get be on your way to alpaca ownership. They are great animals, and by reading these questions, you can own one too.

Where is it legal to keep alpacas in your backyard? It is legal to keep alpacas in your backyard in most places, particularly in suburban and rural areas.

How many alpacas can you keep in your backyard? As many as you can reasonably fit, assuming you have 0.2 acres per animal. Make sure that you are not packing the yard full, however, as that would likely be illegal as it would be cruel to animals.

What kinds of alpacas can you keep in your backyard? You can keep almost all kinds of alpacas in your backyard. The key limiting principle is that some alpacas may be endangered. However, you are allowed to keep all common alpacas in your backyard.

How big do backyard alpacas get? Alpacas will get between 2.2-3.7 feet tall at their withers if kept in the backyard.

What colors of alpacas can you keep in your backyard? You can keep most any color of alpaca in your backyard. As you know, alpacas can come in a rainbow of colors, from brown to white. Good news: you can keep all of the varieties in your backyard!

Wrap Up

I hope that this article has been helpful in convincing you that you can keep alpacas in your backyard. We have discussed international, federal, state, and local laws that pertain to alpacas. Remember to keep abreast of the laws in your particular area, and know the difference between endangered and regular animals. With a little research, you will have alpacas in your backyard in no time.

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