Alpacas sit in the same family as llamas, whom they are often confused for, however they are noticeably smaller in size and unlike llamas aren’t bred for meat or milk, instead being prized for their incredible wool.
Alpaca wool is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep fleece however it is warmer, doesn’t produce lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic and is also flame-resistant.
Alpacas communicate through a series of noises and body language. The most common is spitting when they are in distress or to show dominance. Most give a slight warning before spitting by blowing air out and raising their heads before bringing up their acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and projecting it onto their chosen targets. Alpacas can spit up to ten feet if they need to.
Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups, consisting of a territorial alpha male, females, and their young ones. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, high-pitched bray and will attack smaller predators using their feet to kick. Their aggression towards predators is often utilised by farmers who will keep an alpaca with their sheep known as a guard llama.
Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist Status 2019-20
Not applicable as the alpaca is not a native breed/species.