- FamilyCamelids (Camelidae)
- Weight55 – 65 kg
- HabitatCold 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.
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.