Pet Pointers: Llamas and alpacas
In this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza is looking at the differences between llamas and alpacas.
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The Andes Mountains of South America are where both llamas and alpacas evolved. While these animals are camelids, cousins of camels if you will, you won’t be riding an alpaca. They are much too small and have been bred for centuries only for their soft, colorful fur. The llama however is much larger. With an average size being about 300 pounds and six feet tall, they can carry 30 percent of their body weight.
A llama’s prized workable fur can be shaved as many as four times a year and an alpaca about three times.
“They have hollow chord hair which makes it more warm than sheep or anything like that. Sheep also have lanolin in their fur which can be allergic to people where alpaca's and llama's is hypoallergenic,” said Tricia Snyder, an alpaca and llama owner.
Another fascinating fact about the alpaca’s fur is that it is not only softer than llama fur, it is also flame-resistant!
Both are docile herding animals that, unlike many other species, can reproduce together and have fertile offspring that most often resemble an alpaca-sized llama. Some people may find them easier to handle but their fleece isn’t quite as soft.
If you think either of these amazing animals might be right for you, do some research on your own and talk to other people who already have them so you can learn firsthand from someone with experience.