Alpacas Vs. Llamas
So what is the difference between an Alpaca and a Llama? Are they not the same thing? Well you might be partly right, both Alpacas and Llamas belong to the same family. The Camelid family consists of Alpacas and Llamas as well as Camels, Vicunas and Guanacos. Alpacas and Llamas do look very similar so I understand why many people confuse them, however there are a few physical differences that you can lookout for to help you tell your alpacas from your llamas.
First of all, the size difference, Alpacas are smaller and measure at around 90cm at the shoulder and weigh around 150 pounds whereas Llamas measure at around 120cm at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 400 pounds.
Their faces are quite different and the easiest way to tell them apart. Alpacas have smaller short cute faces with short spear shaped and pointy ears whereas llamas have more elongated faces with long banana like ears.
Then there is their hair. Alpacas have been bred for their fleece also known as “fibre” which is super soft and hypo-allergenic. Alpacas have a much finer fibre than Llamas and also produce much more of a thick fleece. Llamas have soft undercoats and a coarser outer fleece that does not have the same qualities or come in as many colours as their cousin the alpaca. Therefore Llamas are not bred for their fleece like alpacas instead they are bred to be pack animals or meat. Only in some areas of Peru are alpacas also bred for meat.
Are Alpacas and Lllamas wild?
There are no wild Alpacas or Llamas; they are all domesticated animals, unlike their cousins the Vicuna and Guanaco who live freely in the Ande Mountains. Guanacos are thought to be the ancestor of Llamas as they are closely related and Vicunas are thought to be the ancestor of Alpacas. Humans have been raising camelids for over 5000 years making them one of the oldest known domesticated animals.
Many people who visit our farm to walk the alpacas tend to come with a similar fear - that they will be spat on by an alpaca during their experience.
This is due to many people not being aware that llamas and alpacas are different animals and sadly the llamas have given themselves a bit of a bad name as they are more prone to spitting and being slightly aggressive. Llamas are not a horrible animal by any means, they are just more confident than their cousin the alpaca and are not scared to set their boundaries and warn people away - they often make great guard animals for other animals such as sheep and even alpacas. Llamas approach and attempt to fight their predators unlike alpacas who would run away.
Don’t get me wrong alpacas can spit and kick too if they need to defend themselves - however they will never do this unprovoked. It is quite rare for alpacas to spit, when our alpacas do spit it is usually when fighting with each other over food. They mostly spit air, unlike llamas who spit out their regurgitated food. Alpacas are typically a friendly yet shy herd animal and as long as you behave kindly to them and follow our instructions on how to make them feel comfortable you will not be spat on or kicked.
Llamas and Alpacas may have many differences however they can get along well together, they can live together and can even breed, their babies are called Huarizo. They are both friendly and inquisitive animals that naturally have a gentle disposition which makes them amazing pets and great to take out on walks and interact with people. We have found that they can have a very calming effect on some of our guests, making experiences with alpacas and llamas great for your mental health (if this is something you are interested in, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming ‘Yoga with Alpaca’ events this summer).
Whether you are looking for a guard animal or a friendly companion for your walks, llamas and alpacas may be the pet to consider.
If you would like to find out more about alpacas why not get in touch and book an experience with us today.