Fun Facts About Alpacas for Kids and Curious Adults

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Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by worldoftravelswithkids

Alpacas are cute, quirky South American camelids.  Alpacas are similar animals, and are often confused with llamas.  However, there are many facts about alpacas that are unique to them and set them apart from their llama cousins.  We are here to help you learn all the fun alpaca facts for kids and adults alike.  And, also help you identify the difference between a llama and alpaca.

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Fun Facts About Alpacas for Kids and Curious Adults

Fun Facts about Alpacas

There are No Truly Wild Alpacas

That’s right, the Incas domesticated the Alpaca some 6,000 years ago.  You might ask “where are alpacas from”?  Well, nowadays every alpaca is a domesticated animal that belongs to a farmer.  Even in Peru where alpacas roam the mountains, they still belong to a farmer.  Originally, the Inca domesticated and bred the Alpaca for their fleece.

If you want to learn more about the Incas, read Facts about the Incas for Kids here.

Alpacas can be All Different Colors

Alpaca’s are such unique animals that they come in 22 different colors.  All the colors have many hues.  This is one reason that the alpaca is so sought after for its’ fleece and fibers.  Also, because they come in so many different tones, means that the Alpaca fibers do not have to be dyed as much as other fibers.

What Do Alpacas Eat?

Just like the llama, Alpacas are herbivores.  Their favorite and most-widely eaten food is grass.  However, they also enjoy leaves, bark, stems, berries, and other fruits and vegetable treats.  One of the amazing facts about alpacas is that they have a three-chambered stomach.  This helps them efficiently digest all the roughage they eat.

Alpaca Facts For Kids

They Share a Bathroom with other Alpacas

A group of alpacas will use a communal bathroom, known as a dung pile.  Because of this alpacas can essentially be potty trained.  Even potty trained to use something like a cat litter box, just much larger.  There is no difference between a llama and alpaca in this fact.  This fun fact is true for both animals.

They Don’t Spit

Well, almost.  While their cousin the llama is known for spitting, alpaca almost never spit.  An alpaca will spit at another alpaca but it will only spit at a human when it feels extremely threatened and as a last resort.

baby alpaca- alpaca facts

Baby Alpaca Facts

What Do You Call a Baby Alpaca?

Baby alpacas are called crias.  The mother alpaca is called a “hembra” and the father alpaca is called a “macho”.

Baby Alpacas are Very Calm and Gentle

Crias are actually known to be quite shy.  However, they are also very sweet and gentle and easily warm up to humans.  This is why baby alpacas are often included in petting zoos because they get along well with humans and can be hand fed.

Crias Can Stand Almost Immediately After Birth

A fascinating alpaca facts for kids is that the baby crias can stand very shortly after birth.  Not many baby animals can.  However, they are still not the best walkers or runners immediately.  Baby alpacas can be great walking companions and can be trained to walk on a leash or halter just like a dog.

Baby Alpacas Speak to Their Mothers

When they are born, the bond between the mother alpaca and her baby is very special.  So special, that they have their own noises they use to communicate with each other.  They are very vocal and will hum, and nuzzle their mothers.

Baby Alpaca Wool isn’t Actually from a “Baby”

By far the most valuable type of alpaca wool is “baby alpaca” which is extremely soft and fine.  However, it is not actually shorn from a precious baby alpaca but refers to the first shearing of a young animal.  This is an important milestone in the life of an alpaca, and accompanied by special rituals of offering to the mountain gods of Peru.  I have been extremely lucky to take part in one of these, and watch the first shear of a “baby alpaca.”

Can You Tell the Difference?

At birth, baby alpacas and llamas are very hard to tell apart.  Sure they get mistaken for each other when they are full grown but they are almost indistinguishable from their baby llamas cousins.

Fortunately, there are certain ways to tell them apart.  These are similar to the ones we describe below.

 

cute alpaca - fun facts about alpacas

More Fun Facts About Alpacas

Alpaca Fleece is Better than Wool

Alpaca fleece is stronger, softer, and warmer than sheep’s wool.  A great alpaca facts is that alpaca fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers.  It is also 3 to 5 times stronger than sheep’s wool.

Another fun alpaca facts for kids is that alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin, making it hyper-allogenic.  Alpaca fleece is also fire and waterproof.

Alpaca Fleece and Peruvian Weaving are Linked

The beautiful weavings of Peru document the stories of the Inca and Peruvian people, in the absence of a writing system.  Fine, high-quality alpaca products are hand spun, then dyed with natural colorants and finally woven into incredible weavings.

You can read more about the Artisans of Peru, the Alpaca Fiber and weaving processes here.

Alpacas Lifespan

An alpaca’s lifespan is around 20 years.  That is longer than a dog’s lifespan.  When getting an alpaca as a pet or raising for its soft, fine wool, that is an important consideration.  The oldest recorded alpaca lived to be 27 years old!

difference between a llama and alpaca

Alpacas Hum

In general, alpacas are typically quiet creatures.  Humming is the most common sound that you will hear an alpaca make.  They hum for all sorts of reasons too.  An alpaca will hum when it is content, bored, distressed, you name it!  Humming is also the way one alpaca would communicate with another alpaca.

When mating, male alpacas will serenade the female alpaca with a throaty noise called orgling.  How unique and romantic is that?

 

How Do You Tell the Difference Between an Alpaca and Llama?

If you are trying to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca there are a few different physical features you can look for in these camelids.  For one, the main alpaca and llama difference is in their size.  Llamas are bigger than alpacas.  They are about twice as big as an alpaca which is why they are used as cargo animals in Peru

The second characteristic to look for when trying to tell the difference between a llama and alpaca is their ears!  Alpaca’s ears are shorty and pointy whereas llamas have longer ears that stand straight up.

Both the llama and alpaca are camelids and, at first glance, can appear to be quite similar. Besides their physical characteristics, alpacas also have much finer fiber coats.  This is why alpaca fiber is sought after weaving and knitting. Also, llamas are known for their quick tempers and spitting.  Llamas will spit at the first notion of being threatened whereas alpacas will only spit as a last resort.

If you really want to get into it the differences, see our post Alpaca Vs Llama -What’s the Difference Between a Llama and an Alpaca?

Plus, if you are interested in llamas then check out Fun Llama Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults.

Here are some recommended books on alpacas and llamas.  Click each one for current prices on Amazon.

 

fun alpaca facts

The Verdict – Fun Facts About Alpacas for Kids and Curious Adults

So there you have it, all these fun alpaca facts!  As you have read these are amazing animals that serve many purposes.  Not only are they sought after for their fibrous coat, they can be gentle and loyal companion animals.  Plus, we hoped you learned how to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca!

Do you have any facts about Alpacas you would like to share?  Leave them in the comments below.

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Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.