38 fascinating facts about alpacas

38 fascinating facts about alpacas

We love our herd of alpacas. Every animal has its own personality, and they’re so adorably docile and friendly. No wonder they’re such popular pets and farm animals. Here are loads of fun facts about our favourite animals.

Alpaca facts

  • There are no wild alpacas – the alpaca is the domesticated version of the vicuña
  • Alpacas live at high altitude in the South American Andes
  • Like cows and sheep, alpacas are ruminants
  • Alpacas are related to llamas, which are domesticated versions of the guanaco
  • Llamas are mostly used as pack animals and alpacas for their wool
  • Vicuñas are descended from camel-like animals that evolved in North America then moved south roughly 3 million years ago
  • Around 6000 years ago the Andean people started to domesticate alpacas
  • There are two kinds of alpaca, the Huacaya and the Suri
  • Suri have very long-fibred fleeces and Huacaya have a shorter crimped fleece
  • Alpacas are the smallest members of the camel family, on average 3 feet high at the shoulder and 4-7 feet long
  • Alpacas, native to the Andes, are happy living at altitudes up to 4800 metres
  • Alpacas all over the world thrive on ordinary farmland
  • 99% of the world’s alpacas still live in South America
  • Alpacas are highly sociable, gentle and curious
  • Alpacas make really good pets and can be trained fairly easily
  • Alpacas are herd animals and don’t like to be alone. When their own kind aren’t around they like to live with llamas, goats and sheep
  • Llamas and alpacas can breed, and their babies are called huarizo
  • Alpaca fur incredibly soft and does not retain water. In fact, it’s the second strongest animal fibre after mohair
  • If, as an alpaca, you feel distressed or threatened, you might spit at your fellow animals
  • Alpacas never spit at or bite humans unless they’ve been abused
  • Alpacas make a gentle mmmmmmmmm humming noise when happy
  • When there’s danger they scream, and they make an odd hooting sound when they’re excited
  • Fighting male alpacas make a sound a bit like a loud, warbling bird
  • The members of an alpaca herd will all use the same loo rather than pooping randomly. This helps prevent diseases from spreading
  • It’s funny to see female alpacas queuing for the loo in a line – they like to ‘go’ together!
  • Alpacas breed once a year naturally, and give birth to just one baby
  • The gestation period for alpacas is 242 to 345 days
  • It takes an alpaca about 7 hours to give birth
  • A baby alpaca is called a cria
  • Crias weigh about 9 kg when born and take 6-8 months to wean
  • Females can reproduce at 12 – 15 months old
  • males mature a bit more slowly, ready to mate at around three years old
  • Alpacas can live as long as 20 years
  • Thankfully alpacas are not an endangered species
  • Alpacas come in 22 colours, from a deep blue-black through browns and tans to white
  • Some Andean people eat alpaca meat
  • In Peru alpaca meat is a luxury food
  • Alpacas don’t have teeth in the top-front of their mouths, which is why they sometimes look a bit goofy

About us – Meet Chilla Valley Alpacas

Chilla Valley Alpacas is a family business in Devon. We’ve been caring for a small herd of breeding and selling alpacas since 2006, known for our top-quality genetics and sturdy, healthy animals. We’re dedicated to the British fibre industry and all of our lovely alpaca fibre is processed into yarns and finished products, sold at our online shop, The Little Wool Company. If you’d like to talk alpacas, we’ll be thrilled to discuss these delightful animals with you.

By |2019-09-13T13:55:12+00:00September 13th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

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Ruth Strickley lives in Devon where she owns and manages Chilla Valley Alpacas and its complimentary business The Little Wool Company.