Are Llama and Alpaca the Same?

[] the Inca Empires heyday, Machu Picchu also provides excellent opportunities to see firsthand the differences between llamas and alpacas. Llamas grow up to twice the size of alpacas and belong to the camel family. Both animals can be []

How closely related are llamas and alpacas?

Camelidae

How can you tell a llama from an alpaca?

The key in differentiating between these two species is by ear shape and length: Llamas have longer, curved, banana-like ears, whereas Alpacas have shorter, straighter, and more pointy ears.

Are alpacas and llamas in the same family?

Alpacas and llamas are so similar because they are both part of the camelid family, which includes camels, their cousins in the eastern hemisphere.

Can llama and alpaca be together?

Llamas and alpaca can live together, but should be separated based on gender. Females can get easily hurt, so separating the eager males can be beneficial to the herd. Llamas can be slightly more trouble than alpacas, but both species are relatively tame on the farm.

If you are strolling through the streets of Cusco or perhaps visiting Machu Picchu, you are certain to spot a llama or alpaca. But which one are you looking at?

In contrast, llamas usually grow more coarse wool and tend to have unique spotting and multicolored fur ranging from shades of white, brown, black and red. Additionally, indigenous groups like the Inca frequently ate alpaca meat, a lean, almost sweet source of protein.

In general, their temperament depends on the individual animals socialization and training, with plenty of friendly llamas and alpacas. While llamas and alpacas are domestic animals and do not live in the wild anymore, both certainly thrive in their native region, the Andes Mountains of South America. You can spot the llamas at Machu Picchu grazing freely throughout the archaeological site during your tour !

While the majority of alpacas live in the mountainous region of Peru, their range extends into Ecuador, western Bolivia, northwestern Argentina and northeastern Chile. Alpacas always prefer to stay in temperate climates within an approximate altitude of 11,480 to 16,400 feet (3,500 to 5,000 meters) above sea level. Llamas originated in the central plains of North America and migrated south during the Great American Interchange.

Commonly spotted in the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve between Arequipa and Colca Canyon , many travelers will get a chance to see this animal while visiting Peru.

Llamas and alpacas are often mistaken for the same animal, and the confusion is understandable. Alpacas and llamas are so similar because they are both part of the camelid family, which includes camels, their cousins in the eastern hemisphere.

Although they are not native to the United States, these hardy animals can still thrive as long as they get a good shave for hot weather. The more aggressive and independent nature of llamas also makes them great guard animals for herds of sheep or alpacas.

Raising alpacas and llamas can help vulnerable communities in the Andean highlands make living incomes due to these animals’ hardiness in tough climates, valuable fiber and gentleness on the environment.

We’re often asked what the difference is between Alpacas vs Llamas. Both llamas and alpacas are south american camelids and they are related but definitely not the same. In addition to these camelids, in South America there are also Vicunas and Guanacos but for this article we’ll mostly be focusing on Alpacas and Llamas.

For instance, a Vicuna scarf will normally retail for around $1200 and will come with a certificate of origin with a government authenticity stamp and approval document. That is why we work with our suppliers in Peru to bring you the finest alpaca socks and apparel at the most reasonable prices.

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Size

The first thing you will notice when comparing an alpaca and a llama is their size difference. Llamas are significantly bigger than alpacas.In regards to their height, llamas are taller, reaching 42 to 46 inches (106 to 117 cm) on average. Alpacas measure between 34 to 36 inches (86 to 92 cm) on average.However, the weight difference between these two animals is even more significant. On average, llamas weigh between 280 and 450 pounds (127 to 204 kg). That is quite a lot compared to the 106 to 185-pound (48 to 84 kg) average weight range for alpacas.

Face

Llamas have a longer face with a larger muzzle. Alpacas, on the other hand, have round, smooshed faces. They also have fluffy fur on their face, especially on their foreheads. Llamas tend to have short and thin fur around their face.Alpacas have softer facial features than llamas. Because of this, many people believe alpacas are the cuter of the two.

Ear Shape

Llama ears are tall and long. They stand up in a shape that looks like a banana. Alpacas have shorter, pointy ears. Their fuzziness continues onto their ears, whereas llamas tend to have smoother and straighter fur around their ears.

Wool

The wool of alpacas can vary from white to lighter tones of yellow and brown. Their whole bodies, even their faces, are covered in fluffy, fine fur. They tend to only have one color of wool covering their whole body. In contrast, llamas usually grow more coarse wool and tend to have unique spotting and multicolored fur ranging from shades of white, brown, black and red.When it comes to textiles, alpaca wool produces a much finer fiber than llamas. A lot of garments and clothes you can buy in Cusco use alpaca wool. There is an even more luxurious wool known as baby alpaca, made from the alpacas first shear. It is softer and more durable than the later shears. Llama wool is not as soft but can be used to make rugs, ropes or other items.

Purpose

Llamas are larger animals that have been bred mostly to be a pack-carrying animal. This purpose dates back to the Inca Empire. During the Spanish conquest, the llamas became pack animals in mines, bringing ore down from the mountains. To a lesser extent, their wool has been used to make textiles and their meat is occasionally eaten.Alpacas, on the other hand, are much smaller and therefore don’t make very good pack animals. Instead, they have a very fine, silky coat that can create soft and warm textiles. They are sheared once per year. You can find plenty of alpaca textiles for sale in markets across the Andes. Additionally, indigenous groups like the Inca frequently ate alpaca meat, a lean, almost sweet source of protein. Today, you can find alpaca meat in many restaurants across the Peruvian Andes. Alpaca meat is also gaining popularity globally, with alpaca farms in the US and Australia making a name for themselves.

Temperament

Alpacas tend to be gentle and shy, needing more protection and care from humans. They prefer being in herds as they are very social animals. Llamas, however, are more independent. Due to their size, they are better able to protect themselves.Both animals have the ability to spit, but spitting at humans is less common than you think. Llamas tend to spit at other llamas when they feel threatened, as a form of discipline or to gain control. Alpacas, however, only spit as a last resort.In general, their temperament depends on the individual animal’s socialization and training, with plenty of friendly llamas and alpacas. If you come across either, be sure to keep your distance to not frighten or threaten the animal. They are very curious creatures, and if they feel comfortable around you, they may approach you. Keep your cameras ready to capture a cute selfie!

Distribution

While llamas and alpacas are domestic animals and do not live in the wild anymore, both certainly thrive in their native region, the Andes Mountains of South America. In comparing the difference between llamas and alpacas, it is important to note that llamas thrive in a greater variety of climates.Therefore, the range of llamas is larger than that of alpacas. Llamas thrive all across the Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. They are rugged creatures that can survive on cold, dry mountaintops in harsh conditions. Additionally, about thirty llamas live at Machu Picchu, making them some of the most famous llamas in Peru. You can spot the llamas at Machu Picchu grazing freely throughout the archaeological site during your tour!While the majority of alpacas live in the mountainous region of Peru, their range extends into Ecuador, western Bolivia, northwestern Argentina and northeastern Chile. Alpacas always prefer to stay in temperate climates within an approximate altitude of 11,480 to 16,400 feet (3,500 to 5,000 meters) above sea level.

Origin

While llamas and alpacas are similar creatures, their origin stories are rather different. Llamas originated in the central plains of North America and migrated south during the Great American Interchange. Alpacas, however, descended from their wild relative, the South American vicuña.

Bonus: Other Camelids in South America

While alpacas and llamas are the most common camelids in Peru and across the Andes, two others live in this area as well. The vicuña and guanaco are the wild counterparts of the alpaca and llama respectively.

Vicuñas

Exclusive to the central Andes, vicuñas, the wild counterpart to the alpaca, are also an important animal in Peru. The unofficial Peruvian national animal, they even make an appearance on the Peruvian coat of arms! Commonly spotted in the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve between Arequipa and Colca Canyon, many travelers will get a chance to see this animal while visiting Peru. Additionally, vicuña wool is considered one of the finest in the world. Although expensive, vicuña textiles make lovely souvenirs from Peru.

Ears

Alpacas and llamas both have adorable ears, but in different ways. Alpacas have short, pointed ears that look kind of like elf ears. Llama ears are longer and more rounded, kind of like bananas.

Faces

Llamas have long snouts that stick out, while alpaca faces look like a llama with its face smooshed in – in a cute way!

Size

Llamas can grow up to four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 400 pounds, whereas Alpacas are more petite at around three feet tall and 150 pounds.

Fiber

Llamas and alpacas both grow thick fiber to ward off the cold of their native highland habitat. But alpacas grow fleece that is much finer, softer and thicker, while llama fleece is more like hair. Most alpacas are the huacaya variety, which look a lot like teddy bears because of their crimpy, fluffy fleece. The rarer suri variety grow longer, shiny fiber.

Personality

Alpacas are used to traveling in herds, so they are typically shy and polite. Llamas, on the other hand, are more independent. They can be assertive and pretty rude, to be honest. It’s true that you’re in danger of getting spat on by both animals, but it’s more likely with the peevish llama, while alpacas are generally sweeter.Alpacas’ docile nature means they can make great pets. Although they are not native to the United States, these hardy animals can still thrive as long as they get a good shave for hot weather. You’ve got to get at least two, though — herd animals get lonely!

Purpose

Alpacas and llamas are both domesticated breeds of livestock that were cultivated for different reasons. Alpacas were bred from native vicuña, their wild camelid ancestors, for their ridiculously soft fiber. Alpaca fiber and the much rarer vicuña fiber are prized the world over for making luxe sweaters, blankets, scarves and anything else cozy and warm. Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fiber lanolin-free and therefore hypoallergenic, and it is not at all itchy to the touch.Llamas, on the other hand, originated from another Andean camelid, the wild guanaco. Llama fiber is often sheared and used for weaving and other fiber arts. More often, llamas are used as pack animals to carry heavy loads on long treks, or for their meat. The more aggressive and independent nature of llamas also makes them great guard animals for herds of sheep or alpacas.