Small Business

10 things you may (or may not) know about alpacas

Iowa in full fleece

I love compiling lists, so what could be better than a list of alpaca facts?! Many people I speak to often ask the same questions (usually, “Do they spit? And, “How long are they pregnant for?”) so I’ve done lots of reading up over the last few months! Here are a few fun facts that you may or may not know about these quirky creatures…

  1. Female alpacas are called Hembras and the males are called Machos. The young are called Cria, which translates from Spanish to mean ‘creation.’ Ahhh!
  2. The female alpaca has a gestation of a whooping 11 and a half months! It is also very rare for them to have twins. What a long pregnancy!
  3. Alpacas can, and will spit, but they are more likely to do so at another alpaca, not a human. However, if they feel threatened they will most certainly spit at you!
  4. There are quite a few differences between alpacas and llamas, but they are often confused. Unlike llamas that are pack animals (they can carry up to 20kgs in weight), alpacas are much smaller and can’t be ridden or carry heavy loads. Alpacas are in fact about half the size of a llama. Incidentally, alpacas and llamas can interbreed, creating offspring called huarizo.
  5. Alpacas are herd animals and must not be kept alone. Even if they are being walked, they must be walked in pairs.
  6. Alpaca fleece is the only natural fibre in the world that doesn’t contain lanolin. This makes it perfect for people with wool allergies as it’s hypoallergenic. None of that itchiness you get from sheep’s wool!
  7. Alpaca fibre at its finest is like a hard wearing cashmere, and is therefore one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. An average alpaca will provide between 2-3kg of fibre each year.
  8. Alpacas are induced ovulators, which means that the act of mating makes them ovulate. This means that they can have young at any time of the year. Other induced ovulators include cats, rabbits and ferrets!
  9. Alpacas form part of the camelid family which is made up of llamas, camels, vicuñas and guanacos.
  10. Alpacas don’t have hooves like horses, cows or sheep, so they are very gentle on the land. Instead of hooves they have a soft pad (similar to a dog’s) and two toes with nails.
Ixia in full fleece

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