Llamas Versus Alpacas Whats The Difference
Llamas vs. Alpacas: What’s the Difference?
Some people have trouble telling the difference between a llama and an alpaca. While both of these animals are from the same Camelidae family and are closely related, they are very different creatures. Read on to get a side-by-side comparison of the two!
Llamas are thought to have originated in the central plains of North America, before migrating to South America.
Alpacas originated in Peru, where the majority of them still reside today.
Llamas have longer curved ears and a longer face. They don’t usually have a lot of excess hair on their face and head.
Alpacas have short ears that point straight up, and a rounder face that looks “squished.” They often have a tuft of hair on top of their head, that can fall down over their eyes if long enough.
Llamas are the bigger of the two animals. An adult male llama can be almost 6 feet tall at the top of his head, and weigh three to four hundred pounds! On average, llamas measure right around 4 feet at their shoulders.
Alpacas are smaller than llamas, not getting much taller than about 3 feet at the shoulders. They generally weigh between 100-150 pounds.
Llamas live 15-25 years, but some can live as long as 30 years.
Alpacas have a lifespan of 15-20 years. The oldest alpaca ever recorded lived to be 27 years old.
In this respect, llamas and alpacas are similar, though alpacas often have more consistent color throughout their body. They can range from brown to tan to white to black to grey or even piebald.
Llamas are very brave and outgoing. They are curious and sociable, and while they are usually herd animals, they don’t mind being on their own. A solo male llama makes a very good guard animal, and they are often used to guard flocks of sheep or goats in some regions of the United States. Llamas are more likely to spit than alpacas, though if they have been brought up correctly, they rarely intentionally spit at humans. They can be more aggressive, often spit at each other or if they’re feeling threatened.
Alpacas are extremely friendly, gentle and intelligent. They prefer to stay in herds, where they develop a hierarchy within their family groups. In general, they tend to be less aggressive than llamas, though they can be if they feel threatened. They don’t usually spit at humans, though they sometimes spit at each other (it’s often just air blown out through their lips, with very little saliva).
Llamas were primarily bred to be used as pack animals. They can carry up to 30% of their body weight for 5-8 miles. While the outside coat of a llama consists of course hair, it does have an inner layer that is softer and is sometimes used as wool, though it’s not as popular as alpaca wool.
Alpacas were bred for their luscious, silky fiber. It is very soft, and popular for use in yarn and other sewing materials. Alpacas are usually sheared once a year, and can yield 5-10 pounds of fiber at each shearing. Their fiber can be tricky to work with, and requires a skilled artisan to spin the yarn and make something out of it.