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Alpaca Information



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*Alpacas are members of the Camelid family. They are closely related to Camels, Vicuñas, Gaunacos, and of course Llamas. They are native to the Andes Mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Chili, where they were first domesticated generations ago, pre-dating the Incan Empire and the Spanish Conquistadors!

*Alpacas are prized for their soft, warm fiber. Did you know alpaca fiber is 7-8 times warmer than sheep wool? The fineness of fiber is measured in microns, and usually ranges from 26 microns down to as low as 17 microns in alpacas. That's pretty fine!

*Did you know alpacas have a gestation period of 11-11 1/2 months? (That means they are pregnant almost a full year long!)
Baby alpacas are called crias. They often weigh around 20 lbs at birth, more than double the average human baby! 

*Full grown alpacas usually weigh between 150 and 180lbs, making them quite a bit smaller than llamas which can top the scales anywhere between 250 and 500lbs! And most alpacas stand about 5' tall, thanks to their long and flexible necks. 

*All camelids have the ability to spit (Eww!), and it is one of their few methods of defense. And yes, it is green and smelly! But don't worry, most will only spit if they feel threatened or mad. Their other main defense is in their ability to kick, they can even kick sideways!

* Alpacas are pseudo-ruminates, which means 'false ruminates'. Their digestive system is close to ruminates, like cattle and sheep, but alpacas and llamas have 3 stomachs, the rumen, the true stomach, and the hind-gut.

*Alpacas and their close cousins the llamas, have no top front teeth. Instead they have a hard pad called a dental pallet or plate. Their bottom teeth meet up with this plate for grazing, and they have a full set of molars further back in their mouthes. 

*There are 2 kinds of alpacas. The most common is called Huacaya. Huacayas are fuzzy, looking like giant teddy bears, and their fiber is soft and crimpy. The lesser known breed is called Suri. Suri alpacas have long, silky fiber that grows in ringlets. Some consider Suris less hardy than Huacacyas, and more skiddish and shy as well.