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The alpaca is a species of South American camelid mammal that was domesticated thousands of years ago. Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes at an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 metres above sea level. This means alpacas survive under extreme weather conditions.


Alpacas are similar to, but considerably smaller than llamas. While llamas are used as working animals, alpacas are raised mainly for their soft wool, which comes in more than 52 natural colors and is considered a valuable commodity.


There are two breeds of alpaca: Suri and Huacaya. The main difference between the breeds is the length and fineness of the wool-like fiber. The Suri have very long fibers, while the Huacaya have a more compact “crimpy” fleece, with shorter fibers.


Alpacas are the smallest members of the camel family. The average height at the shoulder is around 90 centimeters. They are 120 to 225 cm tall and weigh 55 to 65 kilograms. The average lifespan of an alpaca is between 15–20 years.

Alpacas usually eat 1.5% of their body weight daily for normal growth. They mainly need pasture grass, hay, or silage but some may also need supplemental energy and protein foods.


Alpacas communicate through body language. They are social herd animals that live in family groups. Alpacas can be very gentle, intelligent, and extremely observant.


Alpacas in a herd all use the same area as a bathroom instead of defecating in random areas like many animals do. This behavior helps control parasites.


The gestation period is, on average, 11.5 months, and usually results in a single offspring, or cria. Twins are rare, occurring about once per 1000 deliveries. The female is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks.

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