In detail

The alpaca - profile


Characteristics

Surname: Alpaca
Other names: Pako
Latin name: Vicugna Pacos
class: Mammals
size: up to 1m
mass: 50 - 70kg
Older: 15 - 20 years
Appearance: white to dark brown fur
Sexual dimorphism: No
Nutrition type: Herbivore (herbivor)
food: Grass hay
distribution: South America
original origin: South American Andes
Sleep-wake rhythm: diurnal
habitat: Steppe, high mountains, semi-desert
natural enemies: Big cats
sexual maturity: about the age of three
mating season: all year round
gestation: 310 - 350 days
litter size: 1 cub
social behavior: Herd animal
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting facts about the alpaca

  • Like their close relatives, the llamas and the camels, alpacas belong to the cloven-hoofed family. Within the genus there are two wild species, the guanacos and the vicunas, which are much smaller than the alpacas.
  • They are mainly native to South America, primarily in Bolivia, Chile and Peru, where they live as domesticated animals, especially in the heights of the Andes. As a bred camel species, alpacas colonize other regions such as grasslands, steppes or semi-deserts. Because of their homeland, alpacas are also called New World Camels.
  • The cold altitudes do not bother the alpacas, as they have a thick coat with a pronounced and fine undercoat, which can grow up to fifty inches long. Their coat dress is solid or pied and appears in either black, white, a delicate rosaceous gray, brown or rusty red.
  • Depending on the appearance of the coat, a distinction is made between two types. The Huacaya alpacas have a strong ruffled and dense wool. The coat of the much rarer Suri alpacas, however, appears curly.
  • In addition to silk and cashmere, the wool of the animals is one of the world's most sought-after and precious fabrics and is referred to in South America as the fleece of the gods.
  • A mature animal that can reach a height of up to a meter and a weight of up to 70 kilograms, gives between three and six kilograms of wool a year.
  • The steep mountain slopes climb alpacas easily, as they have so-called Schwielensohler under their hooves thick and soft sole pads that offer them support. Unlike soles and horses, these soles do not destroy the soil and pasture on which they are kept.
  • They make little demands on the food and feed exclusively in the warm summer months of fresh grass, in the winter of hay. Also in the attitude, alpacas prove to be very easy to maintain.
  • Alpacas are very social animals that would like to live together with many conspecifics and therefore should be kept in larger groups or herds.
  • After a gestation period of over eleven months, the cow brings only one foal into the world, which can already run a few hours after birth. After a few weeks, the mother is ready to mate again.
  • In contrast to camels, alpacas are extremely peaceful, good-natured and humane animals that are used in many European countries for the treatment of mentally ill people. Even as talented guardians, alpacas are now kept in Europe.
  • These very robust animals, perfectly adapted to the extreme temperature differences of their homeland, have an average life expectancy of twenty years.