Alpacas are part of the camelid family related to llamas, Bactrian/dromedary camels, guanacos and vicunas.
The origin of the animal is in the Andes mountains in South America. Alpacas are from Peru, Bolivia, Eucador and Chili.
The animals were originally raised for their luxurious fiber for royalty during the Inca empire.
During the 17th century the Spanish killed many of the Incans and alpacas forcing them into the high mountains. Living in the high altitude and harsh landscape contributed to their hardiness as a species.
In 1984 alpacas were imported into other countries including the United States.
There are 2 breeds of Alpacas, Suri and Huacaya. The main difference in the breeds is their fibers. The Suri have long fibers (like dreadlocks) and the Huacaya has shorter crimpy fiber
They are social herd animals so they prefer to live in groups (minimum of 2 alpacas)
The average weight of alpacas range from 100-200lbs
Alpacas are modified ruminants-they have 3 stomachs.
They have soft padded feet so they are gentle on pastures.
They are clean animals. They go to the bathroom in the same spot
The lifespan is 15-25 years.
The gestation period is 11 months and is almost always a single birth (twins are rare)
Baby alpacas are called crias and are 15-20 lbs at birth.
Alpacas are raised for their fiber or fleece.
They are shorn once a year (April-June)
The fiber is used to manufacture clothing that is warm, super soft and hypo-allergenic.
The fiber is warmer than wool and water repellant.
The fiber comes in 22 colors
The fiber is free of oil(lanolin) so it is hypoallergenic.