Alpacas are small domesticated species which are a part of the camalid family. Alpacas have been around for thousands of years, but there are no wild alpacas. It is now thought that the closest relative of the alpaca is the vicuña which lives in the Central Andes of South America.
Where do Alpacas live?
Alpacas are thought to have been originally domesticated in Peru and today can be found in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. Today there are also alpaca breeders in countries as far away as the United States and Australia where they are bred for the highly sought after fiber (similar to sheep’s wool). This fiber comes in many colors and is used to make high quality items such as blankets, gloves, scarves and other products traditionally made of sheep’s wool.
Other interesting facts about alpacas
- Alpacas are well known for spitting at other members of the herd and occasionally humans. This consists of air, a little saliva and acidic stomach contents.
- Alpacas eat grass and soft plants, just like a cow, and need to consume about 1-2% of their total body mass each day to survive.
- A single alpaca has been known to sell for over $500,000, but more commonly sell for somewhere between $100-1000 each.
- Alpacas are very clean animals that keep their waste in the same spot for the entire herd. Due to this behavior some people have even been able to house train them as pets.