What a Right Randy Rupert!
Earlier this week KDKH enquired as to whether l had any experience with Llamas or Alpacas and as it happens, l do. Over the years l worked alongside private keepers and small game parks and as you may have read before, ‘rescue centres’. One particular tale that came into being was in fact in the same rescue centre where l was attacked by Sulky the Sulcata in Lincolnshire, and this is both his and my tale.
This incident happened in 2001 when l was volunteering with the rescue centre. I arrived on the Sunday, l always worked either on the weekends, not both days, but when they needed extra help it was usually either on the Saturday or the Sunday.
There were always animals coming and going in the centre and whilst it was principally a rescue centre that relied mostly on its charity status, bills for animals in so far as food and care, bedding and veterinary could be quite high as you can imagine. So in order to up the income other features were introduced to assist. Forage lessons, wildlife skills and husbandry training soon came to be quite the diversity pull for those looking to work in the industry.
In addition to animals dumped at the gates that were simply no longer wanted by their owners as in dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs, birds and chinchillas and many smaller animals, we used to attend to wildlife emergencies such as foxes and badgers injured by poachers or even the hunts. In addition to those we occasionally had more exotic species gifted by not just private keepers but also by game parks and small family run zoos. I think the average reader might be quite alarmed by what actually does get ‘relocated’ to other havens.
One of these gifts was a supposedly awkward llama by the name of Rupert! Quite a tall beast by all accounts, he was male and proud to be so, and as it turned out remarkably loyal – think oversized dog and then think intelligent and fiercely loyal and you can perhaps envisage Rupert!
Rupert also had no understanding of private space – none! Whatever you were doing, suddenly a head would crane around a corner and a pair of eyes would hold the question of “Whatcha doing in there?” A very inquisitive animal was Rupert – he hadn’t been badly treated, he was just no longer needed by the owner who had opted for alpacas instead and one day simply decided that Rupert could not stay as it was not so linear as an outline in the field. When l heard that admittedly l wanted to throttle the owner, both species can live happily side by side as companions to each other.
Now when l say Rupert was not badly treated, most people think of the worst type of sbuse, he wasn’t subjected to that, but he was neglected and so he was taken out of his field, his familiarity and was oiked into a new field by himself, with no companionship and couldn’t even see the newly arrived alpacas, so he became quite lonely and developed some not so nice behaviours in his excitement and enthusiasm for seeing new people and animals. He was also one of the most profound spitters l had ever met in my experiences of working with llamas!! In addition to this he had a fixation problem, meaning that if he took a like and or a dislike to you!
If he liked you he would be stuck to you like glue and if he disliked you for any particular reason he was very similiar except not so friendly with it!!
Now ironically the previous day, l had been visiting a client’s farm, and they too had lots of llamas and alpacas and l was helping them with their field layout as they had placed an order with me for three new females, and l was there when they had arrived and helped settle them in. The three new arrivals had been almost wild and were full of spittle and had hurled their intentions at me constantly during the afternoon, so the overalls l had been wearing at one point were covered in spit!
But by the time l had got home, the overalls had dried and instead of putting them in the wash, l decided to simply have them washed the next night after working at the rescue centre – this l feel was a bad decision to have made.
When l arrived that Sunday to work in the centre, my morning task was to go into the field with the farm animals, so there were some goats, a few sheep, a solitary cow, a couple of deer and three donkeys. Rupert used to live in the house with the owner – he acted like a big dog and the owner to say the very least was at times incredibly eccentric – l know calling the kettle black there eh?
I usually arrived at the centre at a little after six am, and was one of the first to start the feeding routines. It was quieter at that time, none of the hustle bustle had commenenced you were just alone with the animals.
I was minding my own business and getting on with the feeding when l had the distinct feeling that l was being watched. two or maybe more times l looked around and saw nothing, nobody and no one, but still the lasting impression of being observed stayed with me. I finished up the feeding , walked out of the gate, closed the gate and still felt that something was watching me, and at that time of the morning with the dawn just breaking, and the quiet l have to concede to feeling slightly unnerved.
You see, in the spring of that year we had been subjected to some big cat sightings [another story sometime] and a few farmers had had some of their livestock attacked. in fact one of the reasons that owner had decided to get some Rhodesian ridgebacks in as a K9 defence was because apart from the fact that they are a hunting dog but equally because they make for excellent guard dogs, but more importantly because we too had lost a sheep from the premises and it was found on the grounds but up a tree which was quite unsettling l can assure you.
As l crossed the yard that morning, l heard a strange kind of humming noise with a kind of whistle attached to it. I froze, l knew what that noise meant….
Somewhere amongst the buildings, the enclosures and the foliage, Rupert was watching me! But, that noise usually meant that he was in a hostile playful mood although his playful mode was more like a kind of volatile mischief! I told myself to man up, it was just a bloody llama, not an elephant! So, continued walking across the yard, albeit with a slightly quicker step.
I heard the whine whistle for a mere five seconds before l heard his footfall, l glanced quickly over my left should and l saw him sneaking up on me from the big bush beside the house. he even looked friendly for a minute or so, as his turned his head on an angle left to right, right to left, craned his neck. Whistled some more, he then softly crooned and simply walked over to me and l thought , ok, he is alright. He came right up to my face, and looked at me, all quizzical like and smiled!
So l smiled back ………… Fatal mistake!
He spat at me and hit me full in the face and as l was so close to him, l fell back onto the ground, wiping the crap off my face to see him leering at me and just constantly spitting! I was in trouble l knew that instantly, he had never done this before, so l had to get up, and attempt to calm Rupert down.
“Hey Rupert, howya doing. You know me, l am your friend, look l even have some food, would you like that?”
Another face full of spittle, a whistle, a whine and then suddenly he pounced on me!! I screamed, yes folks l screamed, suddenly Rupert was being amorous!! “Oh my gooooooooood!!” He was smelling my overalls and looking more than a little pesky!!
I wasn’t going to hang around, l just took off and at speed. trust me when l say that 17 years ago l was a darn site more agile than l am now, but 17 years ago, Rupert was in his prime and he was equally as agile! I was running all over the place hollering, and Rupert was in full chase, a couple of times he even got close enough to me that l could feel his breath on my neck! I was absolutely terrified, but laughing at the same time … you know that “This shit cannot be happening to me, why is it always me?” Kind of nervousness that can course through your body?
I ran the full length of the yards, weaved in and out of enclosures, over small hedges, in and out of the outbuildings, over fences, l ran back on myself, l ran on the angle, l ran straight, l ran backwards, forwards, backwards and forwards and still Rupert was following at speed, whistling and whining and now even grunting!
It must have been my fifth run back past the house when the owner came out, and the look on her face was a picture, something l would have laughed about any other day.
“Rory, are you exercising with Rupert or are you playing, what is going on?”
“Rupert wants to mate with me!!” I yelled back behind me passing her for the second time.
“Why??” She called out.
“How the hell do l know, l am not a bloody llama am l?!” I shouted at her running at full speed past her for the third time.
“Did you upset him, he is normally not this excited … oh my he really is quite different!!”
“Well instead of asking silly questions Sharon try stopping him!” I yelled out of breath running into the depths of the yard!
“How?” She called after me.
“I don’t know, distract him somehow. I need to get my overalls off!” my voice yelled back.
“WHY do you need to undress Rory?” a tiny voice from the distance yelled after me.
As l l turned l started running towards Sharon again, the nearer l got, the more l was able to make sure she heard me. “Yesterday, female llamas, spat, must have been in season!”
“Oh l see, yes that makes for sense, mm, would you mind if l filmed this? It really is very funny!” She asked as l flew past her again.
I couldn’t be doing with this wacky race anymore and started to undress whilst in flight, and slowly and rather awkwardly l managed to hoist off my overall behind me, allowing me to run around in simply my boxer shorts, socks and tee shirt. Once the overalls were off, Rupert stopped dead, made more funny noises and then simply lay down on the clothing, making some even stranger noises and performing what can only be described as ‘grinding!’ movements!
Finally l was able to stop. Rupert was otherwise occupied and seemed extremely content. in truth he stayed on top of my overall for the whole day and l had to borrow some oversized overalls to get through the rest of the day!
It didn’t help when all l heard for the remainder of the day was Sharon reccounting the tale of the right old randy Ruperts!
Anyway, Thanks reading, later this week – the Alpacas!
For an example of the speed of the llama ….
And for an example of an excited llama!