Parasite screening

* LAB - OPEN *

A service offered to Camelid owners for 'same day' diagnosis of internal gut parasites (worms, coccidia, rumen and liver fluke) and external parasites (Chorioptic, Sarcoptic, Psoroptic and Demodex mites).

Featured in Alpaca World, July 2015.

I have been conducting scientific research programmes over the last 9 years, identifying internal parasites in UK camelid herds. My research has been conducted on alpaca farms throughout the UK as a member of scientific research teams at the University of Bristol and the Pathology and Pathogen Biology department at the Royal Veterinary College.

My research has confirmed the species of parasites infesting UK alpacas and investigated the interactions between those species in controlled and subjected to different treatment regimes. It is helpful when keeping healthy alpacas to be aware of parasite levels within the herd. It is particularly important to assess the parasite status of any new alpacas being given access to your fields and pasture. With this in mind, I offer an alpaca faecal analysis service, using 'gold standard' techniques prescribed for alpaca material. Analysis will identify any nematode, Eimeria or fluke species present in your alpacas allowing you to formulate a husbandry program in line with the pathogens present. The gallery below illustrates a small number of parasites which may populate the gastro-intestinal tract of camelids, some are harmless, some are not.

If you don't know what's there, you can't begin to treat it!

The alpaca faecal analysis service is open to all alpaca keepers who want to know if their alpacas have gastro-intestinal parasite burden, which species are present and most importantly, in what quantities.


To use this service, you need to collect a fresh faecal sample from your alpaca, immediately after voiding, pack the sample securely to prevent leakage and send, first class for quick delivery. The fresher the sample the better.


How to collect a sample for analysis.

Take a fresh sample from the ground immediately after voiding. You will need about 5g of material if you require the main test procedure (for worms and coccidia) or 20g of material if you also require a sedimentation test. 20g is about 20 adult pellets. This should be collected in a polythene bag which must be sealed. Double bag into a second ziploc or sealable plastic bag. On the bag clearly identify the alpaca with a name or tag number. Please wrap the sample bags with absorbent paper or kitchen roll to prevent any leakage soiling the envelope. Put all of the samples into a padded envelope and label the outside 'Pathological samples'.

Don’t collect old samples from poo piles where you can’t identify the alpaca as if a problem is identified you won’t know who to treat!


If you suspect mites in your herd, skin scrapes can also be analysed to determine the offending species. You can take a skin scrape but mites can be elusive. I have been very successful in trapping mites on cotton buds, first dipped in olive oil or baby oil. Wipe the prepared swab between the 'toes' of the alpaca, which is a predilection site for mites (in other words, where they prefer to hang out). Another good site to swab is in the ear or the front armpit.

Put the buds into a sealed plastic or ziploc bag, complete the downloadable form (found below). 

Costs for skin scrape analysis for up to 6 cotton buds ( 2 of each from between the toes, ears and axilla (armpits)) is  £30.

This price is NOT subject to VAT.


Print this packing form, complete all details, enclose it with the faecal sample bags and payment.

Place the sealed sample bag inside a second polythene bag. Ideally, (especially if the sample is quite liquid) these should be wrapped in absorbent paper, such as kitchen roll, and sealed into an envelope.

How to post

Post, first class to

Sue Thomas

Ware Barn, Ware Lane, Lyme Regis, Devon DT7 3RH


£20 per sample (VAT is not applicable). Please pay at the time of sending the sample.

Fees are payable via bank transfer, please email for bank details,

If you would prefer to pay by cheque, please make your cheque payable to SUE THOMAS and include it with the samples.

Whole herd benchmarking can yield very useful herd management results and detailed visualisation reports to share with your vet. As this can often require testing of 50 or more alpaca samples, this analysis is offered at a reduced cost, depending on numbers involved - please call for a quotation.

General samples will be analysed within 24hours, providing laboratory time is booked ahead and you will receive a parasitology report by e-mail. Species detail can be explained giving you the information you need to discuss a treatment plan (if required) with your veterinarian.


To get the best information from testing.

Don’t put samples from different animals together, you must be sure which alpaca gave which sample.

It is recommended that you benchmark at least 10% of your herd. If you have less than 10 alpacas, then test them all.

If you are concerned about particular alpaca because they have lost weight, are generally unthrifty of lagging behind the herd, then test that alpaca first.

Younger alpaca are more likely to have higher counts that older animals so choose weaned cria and alpaca up to two years of age to test first.

If you want to have a number of samples, try to collect them on the same day and post them on that day. Whilst you can refrigerate a sample for a day, fresher samples yield more reliable results.

If you are in any doubt, email for more information.



A complete introduction to parasitology with particular reference to the internal gut parasites afflicting alpacas and llamas.

The course covers the following:

  1. Why test and when.
  2. Parasites, (internal & external) infesting camelids and the threats imposed.
  3. Testing procedures for different parasite species.
  4. Making accurate flotation solutions.
  5. Correct use of the microscope & other laboratory equipment.
  6. Testing using samples bought with you from your own alpaca farm.
  7. Identification of the major helminth and Eimeria species of alpacas.
  8. Recording results and making sense of those results.
  9. A shopping list of what to purchase if you would like to set up your own 'on farm' laboratory.

What you need to know...

No previous scientific knowledge is necessary. Dozens of alpacas owners from the UK and Europe have attended the introductory course, at the end of which they are successfully able to quickly perform tests on their own farm. Sue is an experienced Biology/Chemistry teacher (and parasitology research scientist based at the University of Bristol and Royal Veterinary College) who will help you, step by step, to understand the concepts involved. All equipment for the course is provided.

Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. Please email at time of booking if you have any special dietary requirements.

As individual tuition and guidance have proved very successful, places are limited to two people per course.

Courses begin at 10am and conclude at 4pm


Costs are £250 for 1 person, given 1 to 1 training. If you would like to attend with a partner or friend, the second person attracts a 50% discount, so the cost for 2 people is £375

Payment is required in advance of the course.

Courses are usually held on a Tuesday. If you would prefer an alternative day, email sue to arrange



Parasitic ART!

If, like myself, you appreciate the amazing form and specialisation of parasites, evolved to take advantage of their hosts in the most incredible ways, you may like to view my sculptural pieces. These are parasites of alpacas, pigs and even humans all sculpted from white huacaya alpaca fleece. Find them at my workshop website