The aim of these pages is to become a useful source of information and reference material both for alpaca owners and those simply interested in alpacas. The pages are growing on a regular basis so add a bookmark into your browser (Ctrl-D) and return for the latest updates. The version date of the page is shown top-left on all reference pages.
Many links to the source literature are included in the text and will take you to the reference. The link there will either open a new window or download the item directly.
If you have comments, spot an error or have a suggestion for an area to be covered, do e-mail me on .
Please note - all information on these pages is taken from openly available internet sources, scientific literature and experience at this alpaca farm. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it is for guidance only. Nothing provided here is a substitute for veterinary consultation.
Back to the top
- Alpacas and llamas belong to the camel family.
- Camels evolved into many forms in North America and eventually spread across the Americas and Asia. Only five species remain.
- Llamas and alpacas come from South America and are the domesticated forms of the guanaco and vicuña respectively.
- An alpaca will weigh about 70 kg and average 90 cm at the withers.
- A llama is heavier, averaging 170 kg and be 110 cm at the withers.
- Llamas have inwardly curving ears whereas the alpaca's are straight.
- Male alpacas are called machos, females are called hembra and their young are called cria.
- There are two types of alpaca, the teddy bear-like huacaya, and the suri which has a dreadlock-style of fleece.
- The lifespan of an alpaca is around 20 years.
- Alpacas produce fibre that is very soft, warm and strong. It contains very little lanolin.
- Sixteen fibre colours are recognised in New Zealand, ranging from white through to many fawn and brown shades to true black, plus six grey shades.
- Alpacas are environmentally friendly. They have two pads on each foot (not hooves) which allows them to graze paddocks without damaging them.
- Pregnancy averages eleven and a half months and a single cria is born weighing around 8 kg.
- After birth, the cria will be standing and suckling inside two hours.
- Alpacas are intelligent, gentle and social animals. They must live in groups of at least two.
- Alpacas use a wide variety of sounds and body language to communicate information to each other.
- Four to five alpacas can be raised per acre of land (0.7 stock units each).
Quick page links: