Llamas vs Alpacas

Alpaca were bred for their fur, while llamas are bred for strength as pack animals.

Llamas and alpacas are hooved mammals native to the Andes of South America. It is believed they are descendent of the guanaco and vicuña and were domesticated by the Quechua Indians many centuries ago. They were further domesticated by the Incans. Llamas have been bred as pack animals, while alpacas have been selected for their wool.

Llamas and alpacas are members of the Camelid family are related to camels. Other camelids found in South America include the vicuña and guanaco. The characteristic trait of this family is being hornless, cud-chewing ruminants with an even number of toes and padded feet.

Llamas and alpacas share some characteristics:

  • Communicate through posture and through ear and tail movements
  • Aggressive modes of communication are foot stamping, kicking, and spitting
  • Both have two toes on each foot, with a leathery pad on the bottom

The differences between llamas and alpacas include:

  • Llamas are bigger
  • Alpacas have shorter noses and more symmetrical, pearshaped ears, while llamas’ ears are longer and banana shaped
  • Most alpacas have a full “top knot” or “hair-do”
  • The alpaca’s back has a slight upward curve, while the llama’s back is straight
  • Llamas are strong and are used as pack animals while alpacas are raised for their wool

Both llamas and alpaca live in the high regions of the Andes Mountains.

They are a common site in the region.

You will see herds of alpaca near nearly all houses in the highlands.

They are also a tourist attraction

Llamas are larger and stronger than alpaca.

Alpaca are desired for their luxurious fur while llamas are prized as pack animals.

Both llamas and alpaca are kept in the same herd.

Vicuna are small relatives of the llama and alpaca.

Vicuna are abundant on the very high plains in Peru.

They have never been domesticated, but provide a very warm, soft wool.

Vicuna run gracefully and a delight to watch.

All cameloids have hooved feet.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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