Alpacas (vicugna pacos) are the smaller cousins of llamas; they weigh around 60-90kg and are around 1.5-1.7m tall. They are related to llamas, vicunas, guanacos, all from South America and the Bactrian camel from Asia and the Dromedary camel from Africa and the Middle East. There is a rarer so called Wild Bactrian camel from China and Mongolia to which they are also related. Alpacas are therefore related to the three "true" camels and the four camelids from the New World, South America.
*Where do they come from? Peru, Chile, Bolivia.
*Do they spit? They spit at each other to see who is the boss or when they fall out with each other. They rarely spit at humans and will only do so if frightened or teased.
What do they eat? Grass, hay, haylage, alfalfa and various special alpaca feeds high in energy.
*Do you shear them? We have a specialist shearer visit once per year; they have 2-6kg of fleece.
*How many babies do they have? 99% of the time they have a single baby.
*How long is gestation? Around 11-12 months.
*Why do they hum? If they are anxious they hum to reassure each other; at other times they appear to hum when settled.
*Are they easy to keep? Yes, very easy; they do not become ill very often are kept out all year although they do need shelter from rain or sun.
There are two types of alpaca, the Huacaya, the most commonly seen in the UK, is, when in fleece, the fluffy teddy bear type. The other is the Suri and is recognised by long ringlets of fleece.
The family Camelidae