DE

Alpaca

Vicugna pacos

CHARACTERISTICS

Family
Camelidae

Weight
48 - 84 kg

Habitat
Mountains

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Frugal grazers

Alpacas require very little food in comparison with other animals of their size. This allows them to adapt to the often harsh conditions in the high mountain foothills and plateaux of the Andes. Alpacas eat about one kilo of grass per day - which corresponds to only one to two per cent of their body weight.

Spitting

Alpacas are closely related to llamas, which are primarily used as pack animals in South America. One common feature that alpacas and llamas tend to share is spitting whenever annoyed. They are known to target their aggressor with astonishing accuracy. In addition to saliva, the projectile may also contain acidic stomach contents.

The sheep of the Andes

Alpacas have been bred for wool production for thousands of years in the Andes Mountains of South America. The introduction of sheep by the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th century brought the alpacas close to extinction. However the population quickly recovered with the end of colonialism.

Conservation status