Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few questions that we get asked all the time. We’ve put together a list of some of the common ones here, with short, easy answers. Some of them will also link to longer posts with more in-depth answers if you want more background.

What's the difference between a llama and alpaca?

Alpacas are smaller, and generally more timid. They have smaller ears relative to their head, and are more highly sought after for their fleece. While the two animals are related, they are entirely different species in the camelid family.

Click here to learn more about telling alpacas from llamas (as well as guanacos and vicuñas).

Where are alpacas from?

Alpacas originate from the Andes mountains in Peru. They are thought to be the long domesticated descendants of vicuña (pronounced vik-oo-nya), which still live wild in the Andes today.

Click here to learn more about where alpacas are from.

What do alpacas eat?

Alpacas primarily eat grass or grass hay. They can eat alfalfa hay, but it is too protein-rich for them to eat in large quantities. Alpacas generally eat 2-3 pounds of grass or grass hay each day.

Alpacas are natural foragers and do very well left out on pasture to graze.

Click here to learn more about what alpaca’s eat.

Do alpacas spit?

Alpacas are capable of spitting up to 10 feet. This spit can be either normal saliva, or a mix of saliva and stomach contents, stomach acid included. Alpacas generally don’t spit at humans unless they have been abused or are under extreme duress.

Click here to learn more about alpaca spitting behavior.

Are alpacas dangerous?

No, alpacas are not dangerous. They are very timid, gentle animals that have very few natural defense mechanisms. Aside from the very rare spitting, you probably won’t experience any unpleasant behavior from an alpaca. Even in the case of small children, alpacas are more likely to run in fear of the child than hurt it.

Click here to learn more about how alpaca’s defend themselves.

How much does an alpaca cost?

Like most animals, alpacas can cost anywhere from $100 to $100,000. However, an average registered alpaca will usually cost between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on age, health, fiber quality, personality, and other factors.

Click here to learn more about how much alpacas cost.

What is a baby alpaca called? What are male and female alpacas called?

Baby alpacas are called crias. Female alpacas are usually just called females, but can also be called hembras. Males are studs or machos. Castrated males are geldings.

How long do alpacas live?

Alpacas generally live for 15-20 years, and can bear offspring for most of those. The oldest recorded alpaca was 27 years old.


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