The alpaca is scientifically called Lama pacos and is part of the camelid family, whose members have been roaming the Earth for millions of years!
However, only a few thousand years ago, alpacas were domesticated, and none are currently living in the wild – as far as scientists know.
The Andean people domesticated these camelids and used them as fabric, fuel, and meat sources.
These furry and adorable camelids are found in South America, where they live in herds at altitudes between 11,000 and 16,000 feet.
They were originally bred for their fiber. The alpaca’s fiber is now used for creating hats, blankets, scarves, and other similar items.
Alpacas are social animals living in groups under the leadership of an alpha male.
However, even in their groups, alpacas enjoy having personal space.
These camelids rely on body language to communicate.
You probably already know that alpacas are well-known for their spitting behavior, right?
Well, that’s how they show dominance in an agitated situation!
However, spitting isn’t nearly as common as people think!
Moreover, although alpacas can be aggressive sometimes, they’re typically gentle creatures.
Above all, they’re very intelligent and pretty quiet.
These animals weigh between 106 and 198 pounds and have a height at the shoulders of 32 to 39 inches.
Males may be slightly larger than females.
Despite their round appearance, alpacas have slender bodies. They have long necks, long, pointed ears, and small heads.
The two types of alpacas we’ll discuss today aren’t actually subspecies but breeds of alpacas.
They are divided depending on their fibers. Keep reading to learn more!
2. Huacaya Alpaca
Huacaya alpacas are found at altitudes of up to 13,000 feet in the Andean Mountain Range – more precisely, on the Altiplano plateau in west-central South America.
Compared to Suri alpacas, Huacayas have a much higher population number.
In fact, 90% of the alpacas are believed to be Huacayas.
As we’ve already established, alpacas are grouped based on their fibers and overall appearance.
Huacaya alpacas, for example, are larger, more rounded, and appear bulkier.
Their fibers are short and grow perpendicularly on the body, and their fleece is very dense but smooth.
Huacaya alpaca fibers are slightly thinner but whiter than those of the Suri breed.
Moreover, they have a wooly appearance, while Suri alpaca fleece is silkier.
If you ever want to see a Huacaya alpaca, you should know they’re also kept in zoos: Zoo Atlanta and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
1. Suri Alpaca
Suri alpacas are uncommon and distinguishable by their longer and finer fibers.
In fact, since Suri alpacas represent only 10% of the total worldwide alpaca population, their fleece is considered a luxurious item!
A Suri alpaca’s fleece consists of silky, pencil-like flocks that hang from its body and move freely, thus giving the camelid a flat-sided appearance.
That’s how these interesting creatures got the curious appearance of having bangs!
If they aren’t trimmed, the bangs prevent alpacas from seeing clearly.
Because their fibers are longer, Suri alpacas are considered a more delicate breed since caring for their fleece is more complicated, especially when it rains.
Moreover, they can heat up quickly during summer, so they must be sheared before rising temperatures.
It is considered that Suri alpacas can do very well in the presence of humans, especially if they’re already used to them.
Otherwise, they’re pretty shy and reserved.
These adorable creatures can be observed at the Potter Park Zoo.
As a matter of fact, three Suri alpacas are now housed there!
So if you want to see their luxurious fleece, give it no thought and schedule a trip to Pennsylvania!