Sometimes an alpaca cria is born with a small umbilical hernia. It’s nothing to get excited about… the crias abdominal wall hasn’t fully closed around the umbilical vessels yet. If you place your fingers on the umbilicus you will feel a bulge. When you push the bulge back up into the abdomen it will go through a small opening.Other alpaca owners have been asking us what we do when one of our crias are born with a hernia. If the hernia is small and the opening it’s protruding through is only around the size of one finger it will usually close up within a month. We don’t do much other than gently massage and push the hernia back up into the abdomen. We do this several times during the month to make sure the hernia and the opening is reducing.
If the cria’s hernia is a little larger, about two finger widths in diameter, then we use a wrap to reduce the hernia. The wrap will hold the hernia up inside the abdominal wall. This is done to make sure nothing gets trapped outside of the body when the abdominal wall closes. If the hernia gets trapped, persists or if it’s very large the cria may need surgery.
We make a homemade hernia wrap for the cria with vet wrap and some kind of tape to secure it. The only problem is it usually doesn’t stay in place and we would find the wrap every where except where it’s supposed to be. The other problem was the tape would get stuck to the fleece and we would have a hard time removing it.
This year we have a cria with an umbilical hernia and it’s about two finger widths in diameter. Cate is very active and she wiggles all over the place when we try to wrap her. Then when we finally get the wrap in place it only stays on for about an hour. It’s not very effective.
After fighting with her for several days we decided we needed to try something different. I finally broke down and bought an umbilical hernia belt that is specially made for alpacas and llamas. Well I can’t get over how much easier it was to put on and yes it actually stays in place!
We’ll have to check the hernia belt every few days to make sure it’s in place and that it’s not too tight. She’s still very active and she doesn’t mind the belt at all. She runs and plays and it seems to be working great. Hopefully the hernia will be resolved before she out grows the belt!