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