Lama pacosAlpaca Rose

Family

  • Camelidae

How long do they live?

  • Up to 20 years

How big are they?

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

Where in the world are they?

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

What kind of habitat do they prefer?

  • Mountains, grasslands, plateaus, and shrub lands

What do they have for lunch?

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

Where do babies come from?

  • 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.

Interesting facts

  • 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 status

  • CITES –Not Listed
  • IUCN –Not evaluated

Sources

  1. Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. (February 5, 2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php
  2. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed January 2016. http://www.eol.org/pages/309015/overview
  3. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search