Lama pacosAlpaca

Family

  • Camelidae

Lifespan

  • Up to 20 years

Size

  • Height - Up to 4 feet at the shoulders
  • Weight - 120-145 pounds

Origin

  • Peru, Western Bolivia, Northern Chile along the Andes Mountain chain
    • However, there are no wild Alpacas

Habitat

  • Mountains, grasslands, plateaus, and shrub lands

Diet

  • Wild - Grasses, herbs, shrubs, lichens, and other plant matter
  • Zoo - Mazuri llama chow and hay

Reproduction

  • The alpaca bears 1 young after an 11-month gestation period. Alpacas breed every other year.

Special adaptations

  • The blood of Camelids, including the Alpaca, is especially efficient in carrying oxygen, which is less abundant in the high altitudes of their habitat. In fact, members of the camel family are the only mammals that have oval red blood cells for this purpose.
  • Thick wool enables the alpaca to survive below-freezing temperatures.
  • Alpacas (and other American Camelids) walk on pads at the end of their toes instead of their hooves, which makes it easier for them to travel over rocky or sandy ground.

Facts/info

  • The mouth has a divided upper lip and continuously growing teeth, allowing the alpaca to graze on tough grasses.
  • Alpacas are ruminants, meaning they re-chew their food after it has passed through some of the three chambers of their stomach before digesting it again. This process allows them to get the maximum nutrients from their food.
  • Alpacas have been domesticated for over 2,000 years. They were first bred by the Incas in about 500 B.C., and used for their milk, wool, meat and skin. Alpaca wool is still highly prized today.

Conservation statusAlpaca with Llama in background

  • IUCN: Not Evaluated
  • CITES: Not listed

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org