Animal Cognition

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 433–439 | Cite as

Spatial perseveration error by alpacas (Vicugna pacos) in an A-not-B detour task

  • José Z. AbramsonEmail author
  • D. Paulina Soto
  • S. Beatriz Zapata
  • María Victoria Hernández Lloreda
Short Communication


Spatial perseveration has been documented for domestic animals such as mules, donkeys, horses and dogs. However, evidence for this spatial cognition behavior among other domestic species is scarce. Alpacas have been domesticated for at least 7000 years yet their cognitive ability has not been officially reported. The present article used an A-not-B detour task to study the spatial problem-solving abilities of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) and to identify the perseveration errors, which refers to a tendency to maintain a learned route, despite having another available path. The study tested 51 alpacas, which had to pass through a gap at one end of a barrier in order to reach a reward. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials). In contrast to what has been found in other domestic animals tested with the same task, the present study did not find clear evidence of spatial perseveration. Individuals’ performance in the subsequent B trials, following the change of gap location, suggests no error persistence in alpacas. Results suggest that alpacas are more flexible than other domestic animals tested with this same task, which has important implications in planning proper training for experimental designs or productive purposes. These results could contribute toward enhancing alpacas’ welfare and our understanding of their cognitive abilities.


Camelids Spatial cognition Response inhibition Inhibitory control 



Research reported in this study was partly supported by a Postdoctoral Scholarship FONDECYT No. 3140580 to J.Z. Abramson. We would like to thank the Gulmué Alpaca Breeding center for their willingness to facilitate the location and the animals for the study. We are grateful to Javier Perez de Arce for his enormous help with the handling of the animals, and the preparation of the experiment, and all the team that has cooperated with the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship and/or the publication of this article.

Ethical standards

This research adhered to the legal requirements of the country (Chile) in which the work was carried out and all institutional guidelines.

Supplementary material

10071_2018_1170_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (246 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 246 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 67367 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Psiquiatría, Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencias, Facultad de MedicinaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Centro de Estudios AvanzadosUniversidad de Playa AnchaValparaisoChile
  3. 3.Facultad de Ciencias, Escuela de Medicina VeterinariaUniversidad MayorSantiago de ChileChile
  4. 4.Departamento de Metodología de las Ciencias del Comportamiento, Facultad de Psicología, Campus de SomosaguasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  5. 5.Grupo UCM de Psicobiología Social, Evolutiva y ComparadaUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain

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