The alpaca (Lama pacos) is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can successfully crossbreed. Both species are believed to have been domesticated from their wild relatives, the vicuña and guanaco. There are two breeds of alpaca: the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a graminivore (not to be confused with a granivore) is an herbivorous animal that feeds primarily on grass. Graminivory is a form of g...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
Nomadic animals regularly move to and from the same areas within a well-defined range. Most animals travel in groups in search of better territorie...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A herd is a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associated with...
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The alpaca is the smallest member of the camelid family, having a slim neck and body. Their heads, as well as the whole body, are slender while ears are, conversely, large and acuminate. Some alpacas have unicolorous wool, while others’ coat is varicolored, including about 22 colors: from black to white, from ginger to brown. Lower and upper incisors, along with lower canines, serve adult males as fighting teeth.
All year-round, alpacas live over a vast territory, covering northern Chile, northern Bolivia, the Peruvian Andes, and Ecuador. They are kept and pastured in the mountains with high altitudes.
Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups, consisting of a territorial alpha male, females, and their young ones. As a general rule, herds of alpacas are quite large, covering big territories. Alpha males, in turn, don’t refuse to render protection to a number of females and their young, taking them into the herd. However, once another male comes and overpowers the alpha male, he will straightway become the leader of the herd. And here’s where males start to rival, which brings serious fights. These rivalries are usually accompanied by shrilly and harsh noises, made by alpha males, having the purpose of warning each other as well as scaring away other alpha males from the herd. The period of alpacas’ highest activity is sunrise and sunset. Especially the young: usually, at this time of day one can observe playful behavior and increased activity of youngsters. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet and can spit and kick. Alpacas can sometimes be aggressive, but they can also be very gentle, intelligent, and extremely observant.
Alpacas are polygynous, i.e. one male can mate with a number of females. Alpacas mate at any time all around the year while the gestation period lasts 242-345 days, after which a female gives birth to a single baby, though there have been known cases of twin births. Babies feed upon maternal milk for 6 months and are weaned earlier or later, depending on the growth rate. Males reach reproductive maturity at the age of 3 years while females are ready to mate much earlier, at the age of 1 year.
Presently, alpacas are not included in the IUCN Red List; the overall population is not endangered. This is partly due to human care as well as not living in the wild. There are about 3.5 million individuals around the world, 87% of which live in Peru and 9.5% in Bolivia.
Because of specific morphological characteristics, e.g. lightweight and padded feet, these animals can’t thicken the soil or damage seedlings and sprouts in their home range. Furthermore, they eat native grasses and forbs present in the ecosystem of their habitat. On the other hand, due to the ability to endure harsh extremes of temperature, alpacas help people overwinter.
Domestication of Alpacas began 5.000 years ago. However, their popularity is only nowadays becoming internationally acknowledged. Alpacas played a crucial role in the Inca civilization and culture. Inca civilization originates from Andes Mountains in Latin America, where alpacas have always been highly valued. However, during the Spanish conquest of the region, alpacas became threatened with total extermination. Fortunately, they miraculously survived thanks to their key role and importance to inhabitants of the Andes and their amazing ability to endure harsh temperature extremes, unlike all other domestic animals.