Alpaca vs Llama, What are the Differences??

Discussion Topic Created:
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Many people confuse the Alpaca and Llama. They are both Camelids from South America. We understand how confusing it may be, but there are distinct differences.
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As you can see from the photos here, The easiest difference to spot is the ears. llamas have long banana-shaped ears while alpacas have shorter spear-shaped ears. there really are a lot of differences between llamas and alpacas. The llama is roughly twice the size of the alpaca. Most alpacas weigh between 100 and 175 lbs when fully grown. Llamas on the other hand weigh in the neighborhood of 200 to 350 lbs. with some as heavy as 400 lbs. and the llama has a very coarse outer coat over a softer inner coat - as opposed to the alpaca, which has a very fine, single coat. In addition, the llama produces far less fiber per animal than the alpaca, despite its much larger size.

This is because the alpaca was domesticated and carefully bred for over 6000 years as a luxury fiber-producing animal. The llama has been bred for the same amount of time as a pack-carrying animal. A Llama is a much larger animal. They have been used as guard animals for alpacas. OR get a dog for guarding. Their larger size makes them great as a pack animal. They are also used for pulling carts.

There are two different types of alpacas — Huacaya (pronounced “wokaya”) and the Suri —with the differences between the two being predominantly fleece. Huacaya have shorter fibres that stand out perpendicular to the skin, giving them a teddy bear look, while Suri's grow long, shiny locks that curl into ringlets (Dred Locks)

Alpacas are shy and quiet, easy to train and handle, and extremely intelligent. They rarely bite, spit or kick and have far less problems than other livestock such as sheep and cows.

Alpacas are very much herd animals and must be with their herdmates. Llamas are more independent and are often kept separate from other llamas.

An alpaca has straight ears. A llama has curved ears, often called banana shaped. A llamas back is straighter which makes them good for packing.

From the side, llamas generally have a longer face. Alpacas have a shorter, more "smushed" appearance.

Although this can vary, lamas usually have very little hair on their head and face. Alpacas, on the other hand, have a large tuft of hair on the top of their head that falls into their eyes.

Alpaca fibre is almost as strong as silk and highly durable. It's also soft, lightweight, lustrous and highly thermally efficient. When made into garments it doesn't pill or provoke any kind of skin reaction in people who are allergic to the lanolin or guard hairs in sheep's wool.

Alpaca fleeces have the greatest range of colors than any other animal used for fleece. There are least 22 colors ranging from true black through to pure white, and many different shades.

The alpaca is a fine fiber bearing animal and not really used for anything else. A Llama, also, has fiber that can be used but it is much coarser, although it does have a soft undercoat that is fine and is used by spinners.
Alpacas do not have guard hair in the prime fleece of this "blanket" area. Despite its much larger size, the llama produces far less fleece per animal than the alpaca. The fleece of the alpaca is so dense that the animals could not remain healthy in the heat of the summer with their fleeces unshorn.

Llamas were primarily bred to be pack animals, and alpacas were primarily as fiber producers. An average alpaca stands 34"- 36" at the withers (shoulders), whereas a llama stands 42"- 48" at the withers. Owners of both llamas and alpacas really notice the size difference when it comes to toenail trimming time. Llamas and alpacas depend on flight for defense so definitely do not like having their legs restrained.

In addition to its packing use, the llama makes a very good guard animal for alpacas, sheep and other small livestock. Llamas and alpacas can interbreed and produce live, fertile offspring, but this offspring would not be either as strong as a true llama nor have as lovely a fleece as a true alpaca, so this "intermediate" animal would not be very useful.

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