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Llama vs Alpaca: What You Need To Know to Separate These Two Species

Sep.10.2021 25 view review
Llama vs Alpaca

Alpaca vs lama, the duo that has taken the internet by storm. The two fascinating and globally loved and adored animals are so often mistaken for each other, but why? While there may be many similarities, there are also some major differences between the two animals in a sense of behavior, characteristics, and uses. These are also not animals we come across every day and are most loved for their ugly cuteness.

So we know we love them, but what is actually the difference between the two? You’re about to find out everything you need to know about the difference between alpaca and llama, so you will never confuse the two again. 

What Is an Alpaca?

Alpacas are actually one of the world’s friendliest and most adorable animals, and there is a reason for that. Alpacas are docile and peaceful and give off a very lazy and sleepy vibe, which is why people are so drawn to them. They are part of the cattle species, but are sometimes kept as pets too. They are actually domesticated versions of the wild animal known as vicuñas, a South American wild animal that lives up in the Andes mountains. They are most commonly raised for the use of their wool, which is oh so soft and fluffy.

Alpaca Facts

Alpaca Facts

There are many characteristics that make up an alpaca, some are based on appearances such as size and others of behaviors and qualities. The average alpaca height and alpaca size is an average of around three feet which makes them the smallest of the camel family, they are also approximately seven feet long and commonly weigh anywhere between 55-65 kilograms. What about the lifespan of an alpaca, how long do alpaca live? Alpacas live for around 20 years at a time, with the oldest of all time making it to the humble age of 27.

A typical alpaca habitat is really dependent on where in the world they live. They are quite amazing animals and can easily adapt to their surroundings. They can be found in the dry Atacama Desert in northern Chile, all the way to the wet and stormy terrain to Tierra del Feugo. They have also been exported to different countries all around the world including New Zealand, United States, Australia, and even the Netherlands. The alpaca temperament is also very interesting as they are very social animals who are both gentle and curious and thus make great pets and communicate with a human-sounding hum.

What Is a Llama?

A llama is a South American relative of a camel, although they do not have humps. They are pack animals and just like an alpaca are relatives of their wilder versions vicuñas and guanacos. So where are llamas from? They are originally from the Andes Mountains and are used by the native people to carry large and heavy amounts of goods across the terrain and how much weight can a llama carry, you may ask? Well anywhere between 50-70 kilograms and they are very willing to do so, however, when overworked they will simply stop and refuse to move altogether. They are very dependable, lovable, and calm animals that have also become exotic pets to many people around the world.

Llama Facts

Llama Facts

Llamas are amazing animals and as a result of their extremely sweet nature, they have become therapy animals and are often used in hospitals and nursing homes. So what are llamas good for? Llamas are now raised commercially in the United States and act as show animals and show animals but are also used for their wool and fertilizer as well as serving as livestock guardians. How long do llamas live for? The lifespan of a llama is anywhere between 15 and 25 years, with the current oldest living at 28 years of age. A llamas reproductive system is also pretty fascinating and will most likely fall pregnant on their first mating attempt. They breed rapidly and often need to be separated at a certain point, however, this trait is helpful in many ways. So how many babies can a llama have? Llamas will typically have one baby a year and will continue this cycle until she is at the age of 15.

Are Llamas and Alpacas the Same?

While they are relatively similar, llamas and alpaca are not the same. Are llamas and alpacas related? Llamas and alpaca are actually cousins and share many characters, especially at first glance. Llamas and alpacas are both found in Peru and Bolivia. There are some distinguishable physical differences between the two, one being their size.

Alpacas are much smaller and are about 90 cm, whereas llama is a whopping 120 cm tall. Alpacas also have small flat faces with shorter ears and llamas have longer faces with banana-shaped ears. Their hair is also different alpacas have shaggy hair which is used for fleece production and can be found in a variety of colors including whites, yellows, browns, and black. Llamas air is a lot rougher and is used for transportation rather than wool production. 

Llama vs Alpaca Wool

Llama vs Alpaca Wool

One of the most noticeable differences between the two animals is their wool. Alpacas, although a lot smaller, can produce almost double the amount of fleece. Their wool is also very soft and thick, whereas llamas wool is coarse and short in size. An alpacas fur coat is exclusively used for the fiber, as these fibers are almost as strong as silk and highly durable too.

Alpacas wool is also very lightweight, warm, and doesn’t pill as well as great for people with sensitive skin as it doesn’t provoke any allergic reactions. A llama fur coat, on the other hand, is coarse on the outside and very fine in the inner layer. Llama fibers are hollow and a lot warmer. Llama wool is also most commonly used to spin yarn.

Alpaca and Llama FAQ

Alpaca and Llama FAQ

To give you a little more information about these two intelligent and gentle animals, here are some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Why Do Llamas Have Long Necks?

When you see a llama, you may notice that they have abnormally long necks, which don’t quite match the tiny size of their bodies. They need these long necks in order to be able to reach down to the ground to graze on grass and other plants.

Do Alpacas Have Hooves?

Unlike animals such as pigs, goats, and sheep, alpacas do not have hooves and instead have nails.

Llama vs Alpaca and Guanaco

Llama and alpacas are cousins and are both llama relatives of their wild origins Guanacos and Vicunas, who are all part of the camel family.

Where Do Llamas Originate?

Llamas are originally from the Great Plains of North America and were first discovered around 45 million years ago.

Where Do Llamas Live?

Most llamas currently live in the Andes Mountains of South America, primarily in the regions of both Peru and Bolivia. Nowadays, llamas are also found in many other countries including New Zealand, Australia, United States, and even the United Kingdom as they are used for entertainment and leisure purposes.

The Bottom Line

You have now learned about alpacas, the animal similar to a llama, and their habitats, characteristics, and qualities. You also know a bit more about llama themselves, where they come from, and what they are used for.

Most importantly, you have also learned about the differences between the two and what qualities set them apart from one another. Although both animals are relatives of each other and of many similar to them, they are also very different in a multitude of different ways. Each one is unique and is used for different reasons, and thus is equally important. The next time you see an alpaca and a llama, you’ll know exactly which of the adorable creatures they are.

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