25 Facts About Alpacas

Alpacas are cute, adorable, gentle, charming, quirky, and have just the right amount of sass! So let’s get this show on the road, here’s 25 fleecy facts about Alpacas. 

Fact 1: The Alpaca is a South American camelid that has an uncanny resemblance to llamas. 

  • Alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. Although, the two animals are closely related and can cross-breed.

Fact 2: They are closely related to the Vicuña. 

  • The Vicuña is one of the two wild South American camelids that live in the high alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the Guanaco.

Fact 3: Alpacas are commonly found in the Andes in Southern Peru. 

  • They are kept in herds, that graze the high ground of the Andres at an altitude of 3,500m above sea level.

Fact 4: Alpacas weren’t originally bred to work, they were bred for their high-quality fibre (fleece).

  • Alpaca fibre(fleece) is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep’s wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles, and ponchos. 

Fact 5: Alpacas communicate by using body language.

  • The most common behaviour shown is spitting, Alpacas spit when they feel threatened, distressed, or as a means to show dominance.  

Fact 6: A female Alpaca is called a “hembra” and a male is called a “macho”.

  • A baby Alpaca, on the other hand, is called a “cria”. 

Fact 7: They’re the smallest members of the camel family.

  • Alpacas generally stand at a height of 3 feet, and usually weigh between 48–84 kilograms. 

Fact 8: Camelids first appeared in the Americas around 40-45 million years ago.

  • Their domesticated members, the llama and Alpacas, have been found mummified in the Moquegua valley in the south of Peru dating back 900 to 1000 years ago.

Fact 9: Alpacas were first brought to the United States and Canada in 1984. 

  • Today, the North American herd has grown from a few alpacas in zoos and private farms to about 20,000 individual Alpacas.

Fact 10: Alpaca fibre(fleece) is a speciality fibre and comes in 22 natural shades.

  • It’s x5 warmer and more durable than the wool of a sheep.

 Fact 11: Alpaca fleeces are also hypoallergenic. 

  • Alpaca fleeces lack lanolin, making their fleece hypoallergenic, thus allowing the fleece to be processed without the need for high temperatures/harsh chemicals when washing. 

Fact 12: You can cross-breed Alpacas and Llamas with no problem at all, their offspring are called “Huarizo”.

  • They are valued because of their long fleeces. 

Fact 13: They love to hum. 

  • Alpacas hum when they’re curious, content, bored, distressed, or worried. But when they do sense danger, Alpacas let out a series of staccato braying.  

Fact 14: In the 1940’s, Don Julio Barreda purposefully began to breed Alpacas in Peru to produce better fibres in specific colours.

  • By paying careful attention to genetics, he created distinct herds of both huacaya and suri Alpacas, and cut out the llama genes. 

Fact 15: Females mature at 16-24 months of age.

  • Males, on the other hand, don’t reach sexual maturity until they are about 2 years old. 

Fact 16: Female Alpacas spit to warn off male sexual advances. 

  • In case you were wondering, they also spit at humans too.

Fact 17: An Alpaca can spit to a distance of 10 feet when it needs to. 

  • Spitting is mostly reserved for other Alpacas, but they can spit anytime they want to really. 

Fact 18: Alpacas make use of a communal dung pile.

  • When they defecate they usually designate one place, even if they need to walk miles to get to the poop pile. Their waste can be collected and used as garden fertilizer/natural fertilizer.

Fact 19: Alpacas mainly eat grass and hay.

  • The general rule is for Alpacas to eat 1.5% of their body weight daily in hay/fresh pasture.

Fact 20: Alpacas have soft pads on their feet, similar to the pads dogs have on their paws.

  • Interestingly, Alpacas do not have hooves. Instead, they have two toes, with hard toenails.

Fact 21: Alpacas have a reputation for being good lawnmowers.

  • Unlike other herbivores that pull the grass up by the root when eating, Alpacas eat grass by snipping off only the top of the plant. 

Fact 22: Female Alpacas always give birth in the morning.

  • This is to protect their babies from the freezing temperatures at night. By having their babies in the morning, crias will have the best chance of survival. They have the whole day to dry off, begin walking around, and nursing from the mother before temperatures begin to drop at night. 

Fact 23: They love to lie down and soak up the sun.

  • They will lie down on their sides, stretch out, to catch every little sunray.  

Fact 24: Be careful what plants you feed Alpacas.

  • A number of plants are toxic to Alpacas including the bracken fern, fireweed, oleander, and some azaleas. 

Fact 25: You can buy an American Alpaca for as little as $50.

  • The most expensive female Alpaca sold for $180,000, and the most expensive male was sold for $675,000.

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