Vicugna pacos

 A portrait of an alpaca with reddish fur looking at the camera. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Not evaluated
  • Family
    Camelids (Camelidae)
  • Weight
    55 – 65 kg
  • Habitat
    Cold altitudes, grasslands and steppes

The sheep of the Andes

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

The picture shows an alpaca from the front. It looks directly into the camera.


Alpacas are closely related to llamas. Both are members of the camel family. However alpacas are slightly smaller and significantly lighter than their cousins. One feature that alpacas and llamas share in common is the tendency to spit at fellow species during a quarrel. Their spit consists of saliva and stomach contents, which they are able to project with astonishing accuracy.

Alpacas are extremely hardy animals. They only eat about 1 kg of grass per day – a perfect adaptation for the harsh environment of the Andes highlands.


distribution map alpaca