Did you think these animals are the same? You’d be close, but not quite accurate. Llamas and alpacas are both from the camelid family, meaning they have a hump on their back. But, llamas are much larger in weight and height than their alpaca relatives. Here are some facts about alpacas you may be surprised to learn:
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- They are from the camelid family. Camels are from Africa, the Middle East, China, Tibet and Southeast Asia. Whereas alpacas are from South America.
- There are wild species in South America that run free in herds. They are called guanacos and vicunas.
- There are two types of alpacas. The huacaya, which is the most common type and raised for its fluffy fleece. The second type is the suri, known for its long, silky locks.
- They live approximately 15-20 years
- They weigh between 100-200 pounds
- They measure about 36” in height on average
- They are very smart and easy to train
- Alpacas do not have hooves. Instead, they have two toes on each foot, covered with a hard nail bed
- Alpacas do not have top teeth! In fact, they have a hard gum on the top and some teeth on the bottom for chewing grass and grains. They have molars in the back for chewing cud
- They are raised primarily for their fleece. They are sheared once per year. Each alpaca produces about 5-10 pounds of fleece
- The fleece is soft and in high demand for it’s high quality and it’s thermal properties. The fur makes excellent clothes, hats, blankets and other textiles
- Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece contains no lanolin, meaning it doesn’t go through the stripping process and it’s hypoallergenic
- The fleece is lightweight and durable
- It comes in many colors such as white, ivory, fawn, many shades of beige and brown, gray and black. White, ivory and gray fleece may be dyed to whatever color choice the designer would like
- When alpacas are upset, they spit at each other. This usually occurs most often among males. Occasionally, they may spit at a human, but that’s not as often as people think
- They are quiet, docile and peaceful animals
- They do not bite. Nor do they have hooves, horns or anything sharp that they may injure a person or each other with.
- They are very possessive of their food, especially with each other
- Alpacas are social creatures and require companionship to thrive
- Alpaca babies, called cria, are born weighing between 15-20 pounds and usually stand up to 90 minutes after birth. They wean off milk at 6 months old
- Alpacas require hay or pasture and plenty of fresh clean water to survive
- They need shelter to protect them from the heat of summer or the cold winters
- The good news is they can be raised in all climates
I probably shared with you all you wanted to know about these adorable, easy to care for animals. If you are considering raising your own, check out my other blog articles for further information.