Lama pacos huacaya
Artiodactyla (even toed ungulates)
Camelidae (camels, llamas and relatives)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Alpacas are not wild animals, they are now domesticated. Originally raised in Peru by the Incas for over five thousand years, they are now also raised in the US, Australia, Europe and Canada.
Adults reach 36” tall at the withers and can weigh between 100 and 200 lbs. They lack horns, hooves and incisors. They have soft padded feet which lessens their impact on even the most fragile terrain.
Alpacas are grazers. On farms they are fed grass, hay and alfalfa and often their diet is supplemented with nutrient animal pellets.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Female alpacas reach sexual maturity between 18 and 24 months of age while males reach maturity at 3 years of age. Alpacas are induced ovulaters. This means that the female ovulates once copulation has occurred. Alpacas have a very long gestation period, about 335 days (11.5 months), allowing them to have only one baby per year. Twins are extremely rare. Their lifespan is 18 to 25 years.
Alpacas are believed to have evolved from another camelid species: guanacos. Through about five thousand years of domestication, only guanacos remain in the wild, llamas and alpacas (often considered the same species) are completely domesticated. Alpacas are popular farm animals due to their wool, which is better at shedding water and warmer than sheep’s wool. An Alpaca Registry has been formed in order to document the bloodlines of virtually all alpacas in the United States. There was a misconceived belief in Peru that the alpaca was a carrier of syphilis, which led to a massive slaughter of the animals. This belief was debunked and the Alpaca now numbers 3.5 million individuals.