On my morning walk through a tiny village called Hulcote, I always say good morning to three alpacas. Well, I assumed they were alpacas, but I wasn't really sure. So as I continue on my journey of discovery, here is what I have learned this week.
Having completed a few llama trekking hikes in the UK (my daughter went through a “llama” stage), I knew that Llamas and Alpacas were part of the camel family. But here are some other discoveries.
#1. Alpacas are much smaller than llamas
A llama can weigh up to 400 lbs, whereas an alpaca will only weigh between 100 – 150 lbs when fully grown. At the shoulder, an average alpaca stands between 34 and 36 inches, while a llama generally ranges between 42 and 46 inches.
#2. They have different ears and fleeces
Alpaca ears have short spear-shaped ears while llamas have much longer, banana-shaped ears. … The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colours. Llamas also generally do not have as much hair on their head and face as alpacas do. The alpaca produces a much finer fiber than the llama.
#3. Their faces are very different
Llamas have a longer face; an alpaca’s face is a bit more blunt, giving them a “smooshed in” look. A llama has much less fur on it's face and is not so cute looking.
#4 – They are bred for different reasons
For more than 5,000 years alpacas have been bred for fibre (and in Peru for meat as well), while llamas have been bred for the same amount of time as pack animals and meat.
#5 – Their disposition / personality
Alpacas are very much herd animals, while llamas are more independent-minded. Alpacas also tend to be a bit more skittish than llamas, which are often used as guard animals for alpacas, sheep, and other small livestock.