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9 Fun Facts About Alpacas
Alpacas are in the same family as the llama, but they are not the same, and have several distinct differences. We currently have two alpacas in our Petting Zoo, which you can pet and feed when you come to visit the farm. Read on to learn some interesting facts about alpacas—and why they’re not interchangeable with llamas!
1. The scientific name for alpacas is Vicugna pacos. There are only two breeds of alpacas: Suri alpacas and Huacaya alpacas.
2. Alpacas are significantly smaller than llamas, with adults generally measuring between 31 and 38 inches high at the withers (shoulders). Of course, some alpacas have longer necks, so they can reach 48-54 inches tall. They usually weigh between 106 and 185 pounds.
3. One visual difference between llamas and alpacas (other than their obvious size difference) is in their ears. Generally, llamas have longer, curved ears, while alpacas have shorter, straight ears.
4. While llamas were originally bred to be beasts of burden (and still are used such today in many countries), alpacas were bred specifically for their fiber. Similar to wool, alpaca fiber is considered soft and luxurious, and is used in knitting and weaving. Because the fiber contains no lanolin, it is considered hypoallergenic.
5. Alpaca fiber comes in 52 natural colors, as classified in Peru. These colors range from true-black to brown-black (and everything in between), brown, white, fawn, silver-grey, rose-grey, and more.
6. In ancient times, alpaca fiber was known as “Fiber of the Gods” and was used to make clothing and blankets for royalty.
7. Just like their llama cousins, it’s unusual for alpacas to spit at humans. Usually, spitting is reserved for their interaction with other alpacas.
8. Alpacas can live for up to 20 years.
9. Despite their differences with llamas, alpacas can successfully breed with llamas, resulting in offspring known as a huarizo. These animals are usually even smaller than alpacas, but have longer fiber, which is valuable.