SCLA logo
South Central Llama Association





Llama Info

SCLA Breeders

SCLA Members

SCLA Youth

SCLA Library

SCLA Calendar

Llama Photo Contest

SCLA Raffle

Llama Tails





CC home | basic Lama care | Lama fact sheet | CC 2008 Meeting Report
press release advantages | sample press release | CC poster

Llama and Alpaca Fact Sheet:
What’s the Difference Between Llamas and Alpacas?

Llamas and alpacas are members of the camelid family and are related to the camels of Asia and the Middle East. Natives of the mountain regions of South America, they originated in North America along with all camelids before migrating off the continent and eventually becoming extinct in North America. There are four species of South American camelids—llamas and alpacas being the two domesticated species and guanacos and vicunas the two wild ones.
Alpacas are about three feet high at the withers and weigh 100 to 175 pounds. Llamas generally are larger than alpacas, standing three and a half to four feet at the withers and weighing 250 to 450 pounds. Both have a lifespan of about 20 years and a gestation period of 11 and a half months. Adaptive animals with a gentle temperament, llamas and alpacas communicate through body language, flicking the tail and ears, foot stomping and the use of vocal calls. Though similar in many ways—including having padded feet with two toes on each foot—alpacas and llamas also differ in some ways. Both, however, are much enjoyed by their owners.

Llamas—Called their “speechless brothers” by South American natives, llamas are highly intelligent, easily trained and incredibly curious. They have been used as pack animals for thousands of years in South America and are highly valued by packers in the U.S. because they are sure footed and can carry loads up to a quarter of their weight. Because they learn quickly, llamas can be taught to negotiate obstacles, pull a cart and compete in performance classes. They are gentle and are “housebroken” by instinct, so many owners train their llamas to ride on elevators, climb stairs and walk on stages for appearances in schools and nursing homes. Their high quality fiber is warmer and lighter weight than sheep’s wool, and it can be spun, woven and knitted into numerous articles such as scarves, hats, coats, sweaters, shawls and rugs. Many llamas have an innate ability to guard other livestock such as sheep, goats and even cattle from coyotes and similar predators. All across the country families on small acreages are discovering the joy of raising llamas as intelligent and trusting companions.  

Alpacas—Ancient Incan royalty cherished alpacas for their luxurious fiber. Those traits have been passed down to the present, and alpaca garments are prized for their softness, durability and wrinkle resistance. First imported to the U.S. in 1984, and also into Canada, alpacas are now being successfully raised and enjoyed throughout North America. There are two breeds of alpacas—huacaya and suri—with almost identical body types but very different fleece types and therefore different uses in garments. Like their llama cousins, alpacas eat grasses and chew a cud. They are gentle, inquisitive and easy to handle in temperament and because of their relatively small size. They require minimal fencing and can be pastured on small acreages. Alpacas produce one of the world’s finest and most luxurious natural fibers. Warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, it comes in more colors than any other fiber producing animal (more than 20 basic colors with many variations and blends). The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America accepts fleece from its members and turns the precious textile into quality alpaca garments and products. Members benefit from a ready outlet for their fiber, while the cooperative works to increase awareness of and demand for this everyday luxury.                                 SCLA is a 501(c)(5) Non-Profit Organization                     Web Designer: Sharon Bramblett
Updated: Sun 21-Dec-2008 16:22
           ©2009 South Central Llama Association