The Alpaca is a domesticated member of the camelid family—the others being llamas, guanacos, vicunas and of course the camel. Alpacas are native to South America—from the high altitudes of the Andes of Chile, Peru and Bolivia—where they have been kept for their luxurious fleece for thousands of years. There are two breeds of alpaca: huacaya and suri. Officially they are one species. The Suri alpaca, of which there are very few in the UK, has a fleece with long “dreadlocks” which hang loose and long. Huacaya (pronounced wakaya) alpacas have fibre which is shorter and denser. Ninety five percent of alpacas worldwide are huacaya. Alpacas are grazing animals and eat mostly grass and occasionally browse in the hedge. They should have a little hay when grass is short and there are Alpaca Mixes readily available from feed merchants to ensure they get the necessary vitamins and minerals.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Vicugna Pacos
STATUS: Least Concern
DISTRIBUTION: South America
HABITAT: Marshy mountainous areas
NATURAL DIET: Grass, leaves, wood bark and stems
WEIGHT: 45 – 65 KG