Know your Alpacas – alpaca care for new owners

Know your Alpacas – alpaca care for new owners 2017-03-31T12:02:37+00:00

Alpacas are delightful creatures, gentle and curious. They are actually a domesticated version of the vicuña, a South American ruminant that lives in the high Andes and a close relative of the llama, itself a domesticated version the guanaco. Llamas make excellent pack animals, but alpacas are farmed for their gorgeous, super-soft wool. Here are some interesting facts about alpacas, and how to care for them.

25 helpful alpaca facts for beginners

One of the best ways to learn how to look after an animal properly is to find out all about it. These facts provide plenty of clues about how to keep the creatures happy and healthy.

  1. Alpacas are very often confused with llamas (much to their annoyance) but in fact they are a much smaller animal and their head and ear shape are very different to that of a llama
  2. They fall into two types, the Suri and the Huacaya alpaca, the Huacaya being the most common
  3. Suri alpaca fleece has very long fibres, like silken dreadlocks
  4. The Huacaya has compact crimped fleece with shorter fibres
  5. There are no alpacas in the wild, they’re exclusively domestic
  6. Their wild ancestors, guanacos and vicuñas, thrive throughout the Andes
  7. Llamas and alpacas can be cross-bred. The result is called a huarizo
  8. Andean people began domesticating the vicuña around 6000 years ago
  9. Alpacas can live as long as 20 years
  10. The alpaca is the smallest member of the camelid family, averaging just 3 feet tall to the shoulder
  11. Alpacas grow to a maximum of 5 feet long and weigh between 50 – 90kg
  12. The creatures, being native to the Andes, thrive at elevations as high as 16,000 feet
  13. Alpacas have been exported worldwide, usually living on farmland
  14. 99% of the world’s alpacas still live in South America
  15. Alpacas are highly sociable and quickly get depressed when raised alone, just as a human would
  16. As far as personality goes, they’re gentle and curious creatures
  17. You can train alpacas – they’re clever animals
  18. Alpacas tend to get on well with llamas, goats and sheep, but they really prefer their own kind for company
  19. Like camels, alpacas spit when distressed or threatened, and can also spit to establish their dominance in a group or when competing for food
  20. Alpacas rarely spit at people unless they’ve been abused or are very distressed.
  21. Alpacas make a lovely humming noise when happy, and scream when they feel threatened. When excited, they make a unique ‘wark’ sound
  22. Andean people eat alpacas. In Peru and here , the meat is often served in posh restaurants
  23. Alpacas like to share a communal loo, thought to help control the spread of parasites
  24. Females alpacas like to go to the loo at the same time, lined up neatly in a row
  25. Alpacas must never be kept alone – they are miserable outside a group

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