Physical Characteristics

  • Two kinds of Alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya) and Suri (pronounced surrey)
  • Huacaya fiber is short, dense, crimpy and gives a woolly appearance
  • Suri fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks
  • Short and low set tail
  • Have soft padded feet with two toes
  • Eat grass and chew cud
  • Adult alpacas generally weigh between 150 and 200 lbs.
  • Average height is 36 inches at the withers
  • Pseudo-ruminants (3-compartments in stomach)
  • Adaptable to any climate
  • Members of the Camelid family (Vicuna, Guanco, Llama and Alpaca) Native to Andean Mountain range of South America Primarily found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Domesticated for over 5,000 years. Provided clothing and transportation to the Incas. First imported in the United States in 1984.
  • Current figures note approx 120,000 ARI registered alpacas in North America
  • Average lifespan of an alpaca is about 20 years
  • Gestation is 11.5 months.
  • Female alpaca normally gives birth, without assistance, in the daylight hours
  • Baby alpacas are called crias
  • Have single births. Twins are extremely rare.
  • Alert, intelligent, curious, and predictable
  • Social animals that seek companionship
  • Communicate by softly humming
  • Also communicate with neck posturing, ear and tail positioning and head tilt
  • Uses communal dung areas
  • Sheared without harm every 12 to 18 months
  • Require minimal fencing. They can be pastured at 5 per acre
  • Virtually disease-resistant animals
  • Require annual vaccinations with tetanus and other locally appropriate vaccines
  • Need routine parasite control
  • Need occasional nail and/or teeth trimming
End Products
  • Main end-product is fiber
  • In ancient times, alpaca fiber was known as the "Fiber of Gods"
  • Soft as cashmere and lighter and warmer than wool
  • Hypo-allergenic and contains no lanolin
  • Comes in 22 natural colors

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