ALPACA

alpaca

ALPACA

DIET: Herbivore

STATUS IN THE WILD: Not evaluated

RANGE: South America

PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS

Alpacas are a South American camelid species that closely resemble llamas in appearance. Alpacas are a domesticated species that are kept for their hair, which is used to make clothing and blankets. Unlike llamas, alpacas are not intended to be beasts of burden. Alpacas typically weigh between one hundred and one hundred eighty-five pounds and only reach about forty inches in height. Alpacas are social herd animals that live in large groups. They typically have an alpha male, several females, and offspring in the group. Not all alpacas spit, but all of them are certainly capable of doing so. When alpacas spit, it can sometimes contain stomach contents to add to the effectiveness of the behavior. Alpacas use a communal spot to defecate and urinate. This allows them to have a large area where they can graze and not have their feces mixed in with their food. This can also limit the spread of internal parasites.

LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION

Alpacas are induced ovulators, which means the act of mating will cause the female to produce an egg to be fertilized. Females become sexually mature between the ages of ten to twenty-four months. Males reach maturity between the ages of two and three years. The gestation period for alpacas is around eleven and a half months and usually results in one offspring, which is known as a cria. Cria are usually between fifteen and nineteen pounds at birth. Alpacas can live up to twenty-five years.

RANGE

Alpacas are mostly a domestic species now and are found in the Andes of southern Peru, western Bolivia, Ecuador and northern Chile.

HABITAT

They live in mountainous areas of South America. They have adapted to handle cold climates and rocky terrain.

DIET

Alpacas typically eat grass or hay fed to them by their owners but will eat leaves and other plants as well. Alpacas have a three-chambered stomach and will chew cud to extract as many nutrients as they can from low-quality food sources.

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