Range: Andes Mountains of South America
Habitat: Mountains at elevations of 14,000 to 16,000 feet
Conservation status: Domesticated
• A member of the llama family, related to camels.
• Llama family, big to small: llama, alpaca, vicuna, guanaco
• Successfully interbreed with llamas (offspring = huarizo), vicunas, and guanacos
• Domesticated for more than 5,000 years. Originally bred for meat, today it is protected under Peruvian law and it is illegal to slaughter alpacas.
• Also bred for their heavy fiber coat – an adaptation to cold climates. The soft hair comes in many different colors.
• There are no wild alpacas.
• Have large pointed ears, and slender bodies with long necks.
• Alpacas are easily trained and are usually quite friendly and gentle. They are able to reproduce from 4 to 16 years of age. Offspring are known as crias, as are those of llamas.
• May live 15-25 years.
• Herbivore, grazing on grasses and eating weeds, shrubs and trees. It has stomach secretions that help it to absorb more nutrients than a sheep, allowing it to survive where there is poor quality grass.
• Predators are pumas, leopards, and other large carnivores.