Confusion Between Alpacas and Llamas
There is so much confusion between alpacas and llamas. I decided to attempt to explain some of the differences between these fascinating creatures.
There really are a great deal of differences. But one thing owners of alpacas and llamas generally agree on, is that both the alpaca and the llama are extremely intelligent, gentle and curious animals.
Nature and Temperament
In nature and temperament, alpacas tend to be more shy and quiet than the llama, even tending toward skittishness. They are easy to train and seldom bite or spit. They are generally thought to be much easier to handle than other livestock such as cows or sheep. Alpacas are very comfortable grazing with sheep, cows and horses and often will do well with dogs they know.
The Llama, because of its large size has been mainly used to pull carts, carry packs, and to guard alpacas, sheep and other small livestock.
Llamas are big, mellow creatures who bond easily and by most accounts, can make good pets. As with most living creatures, the degree of affection shown by any animal is largely due to the relationship and attention paid by the owner.
The llama is about twice as big as an alpaca. An adult llama, on average, weighs between 200 and 350 lbs., while an adult alpaca, weighs between 100 and 175 lbs.
The Llama has curved ears (often called banana shaped), longer, minimally haired faces , and flat backs (ideal for carrying packs). Alpacas ears are straight, with short little faces and a large, long, tuft of hair that falls over their eyes. Works well for these shy, sweet creatures.
Luxury Fiber and Fleece
The alpaca has been carefully bred and domesticated for over 6000 years as a luxury fiber-producing animal. The alpaca has a very fine, single coat and produces considerably more fiber than the llama, despite its smaller size. The fiber is almost as strong as silk. Soft, lightweight and durable, the lustrous fiber doesn’t ‘pill’ or cause skin irritation or allergies often attributed to sheep’s wool. The llamas fiber is very thermally efficient. Alpaca fleece comes in many varied colours. Approximately 22 colours can be found in a range of Stark black to pristine white. No other fleece-bearing animal can provide such a large range of colours.
The llama, on the other hand, has a much courser outer coat over a softer inner coat. Sometimes the softer inner coat is used by spinners.
Always do your research in order to be knowledgeable about any new additions to your farm family. It is important to their happiness and health, as well as yours.