Animals - Mammals - Alpacas
The alpaca (Latin: Vicugna pacos), also called mountain llama, is a cloven-hoofed mammal native to South America. This animal species belongs to the camelid family (Camelidae).
Differences between alpaca and llama
The alpaca is often confused with the llama. The alpaca is smaller (shoulder height 90 cm) than the llama (shoulder height 110 cm) and usually has a softer character and has more wool. Another difference are the ears, the llama has banana-shaped ears and the alpaca has straight, pointed ears. Since 2001, alpacas are no longer taxonomically related to the llama but to the vicuña, a species belonging to the camelid family. Unlike llamas, alpacas cannot carry loads.
The wooly coat of the alpaca comes in many different shades of color and sometimes hangs on to the ground. The average alpaca comes about 25 years of age and prefers to live in herds otherwise they become lonely and unhappy. In such a herd there is usually a strict hierarchy, so the eldest will usually take the lead and the rest will follow. In the Andes, alpacas are kept as pets because you can make them tame and social. However, don't expect to be able to tame them like a moppet.
They thrive best at an altitude between 4400-5300 meters where there is a low relative humidity. They prefer soft, moist soil for their paws with tender grass and plenty of pools to wallow in. When it rains, they like to take shelter under trees or a shed. These mammals can be found in large numbers in the Andes mountains, more specifically on the high plateaus of Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Peru, more specifically in the plateau of Lake Titica, Punu, Cusco and Arequipa.