Monday, March 25, 2019

Llama or Alpaca, how can you know?

 Llamas vs. Alpacas

Lately, I have seen many photos of llamas and alpacas in social media. However, no one seems to know how to tell them apart unless they own one. Although a native of South America, there are many Camelids living near me so I thought I would share their differences and similarities so we can all learn together....

         Firstly, the ears!  Llama ears are large and banana-shaped (please do not make fun of them, banana brain and plaintain brain are llama bullying), while alpaca ears are small and spear-shaped.
         Secondly, their size. Like their ears, llamas are twice the size of alpacas at maturity.
         Thirdly, their fur.. Alpaca fur is considered superior and a much more fine fiber.
         Fourthly, do they spit or bite?  They DO spit, but rarely. Mostly the males when they are upset and they direct it at younger males. They are both very gentle herbivores with three chambered stomachs and they graze and ruminate (requiring about 1/3 acre to live healthily).
         Fifthly (is that even a word?), what about poop? A herd of llamas and/or alpacas (they live together well) will determine the "poop zone" in their enclosure and ALL the animals will use that area to relieve themselves. A very neat and organized camelid society.
         And finally, what sound do they make, if any? Do YOU know?  Well, they hum! I guess they forgot the words--haha.  It is a subtle noise they make similar to cat purring and no one has determined why. However, they have distinguishable different humming sounds that they speak to each other--their language!
         Alpacas can become sick or die of loneliness. They are herd animals and need a fellow creature to be happy. Except for being very wary of canines, they get along well with other animals.
         Can you ride one?  Alpacas and Llamas can safely carry 1/4 of their body weight, so only children could ride one. If using them for pack animals, the owner must be very aware of their weight restrictions--yee haw!