Although they might seem almost identical, there really are a lot of differences between llamas and alpacas! Below are top 7 common ones.
- Ears: The easiest difference to spot are the ears. Llamas have long banana-shaped ears while alpacas have shorter spear-shaped ears.
- Size: The llama is roughly twice the size of the alpaca. Yes that is true!
Weight: 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.
- Skin: Llama’s have a very coarse outer coat over a softer inner coat – as opposed to the alpaca, who have a very fine, single coat. In addition, the llama produces far less fiber per animal than the alpaca, despite its much larger size.
- Human Interference: 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. They have been used as guard animals for alpacas and they are also used for pulling carts.
- Alpacas in general: 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 fibers that stand out perpendicular to the skin, giving them a teddy bear look, while Suri’s grow long, shiny locks that curl into ringlets (Dreadlocks)
- Behavior: Alpacas are shy and quiet, easy to train and handle, and extremely intelligent, and so, they are perfect as pets or for commercial farming. 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 herd mates. Llamas are more independent and are often kept separate from other llamas.
- Facial Hair: 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 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
Llamas were primarily bred to be pack animals, and alpacas primarily as fiber producers. An average alpaca stands 34″- 36″ at the withers, 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.
Hopefully this resolves the conflict between you and that friend who said, “Llamas and alpacas are one and the same!”
Did this article help you with your alpaca problems? Read more about Alpaca breeding and raising techniques at our Alpaca site Mountain Sky Alpacas.
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Source: Sustainable Livestock Nutrition