Difference between llama and alpaca

The alpaca and the llama are two iconic animals of the Andes, and today there is no complete visit to the region that does not include a first contact with them. Both species are from the camelid family, but differ greatly from their better-known relatives, camels. There are also marked differences between them, but someone unfamiliar with either species could confuse them.

Difference between llama and alpaca – summary

Alpaca vs llama , is it difficult for you to distinguish them? Do you wonder what their differences are? Take note that these are the main differences between llama and alpaca :

Size

It is the most obvious and easy to recognize, at least when we are in front of adult specimens. The llama is much larger than the alpaca . While an alpaca is about 90 cm tall at the withers, the llama can reach 120 cm. This difference is accentuated if we add the length of its neck, which means that an adult llama can easily be taller than a human.

Furthermore, llamas are also much heavier: while an alpaca rarely exceeds 60 kg, an adult llama can reach 150 kg.

Morphology

The legs of the alpaca are shorter given its lower height, and its neck is also somewhat shorter. In addition, alpacas have a more rounded and compact body, while llamas are more elongated. The difference in physical power between the two animals is very easy to see.

Nose and ears

Alpacas have a much shorter nose than that of llamas, which is more pronounced and thin. In the same way, the ears of the alpacas are more rounded, while those of the llamas are longer.

Llama and alpaca fur

Both species produce a large amount of wool, but of a type that is easy to distinguish. While alpaca wool is light and very fluffy, of great commercial value, that of llamas is rougher and coarser, less soft to the eye and to the touch.

Behaviour

The last of their main differences is their character. Both the llama and the alpaca are domesticated animals , but alpacas are much more shy and will likely flee or wander off to strangers.

Llamas, on the other hand, are much more stubborn and outgoing, even daring. It is never advisable to disturb any animal, but disturbing a llama has a greater chance of ending up with someone unsuspecting covered in saliva or, worse, kicked.

Although they can be distinguished by all the differences mentioned, they are confused for several reasons. These are the main similarities between llama and alpaca :

  • They are camelids, that is, ruminants that spend a large part of the day grazing and that share a taxonomic family with camels, dromedaries, vicuñas, etc. We recommend reading this other article about the Difference between camel and dromedary .
  • They spit when threatened, although flames do so more easily.
  • They have a thick wool coat.
  • They live in herds.
  • Like all the herd, they relieve themselves in one or more concentrated points to leave the rest of the space free and clean.

Flame: characteristics

Now that you know well the difference between llama and alpaca and their similarities, we are going to delve deeper into the characteristics of each one. These are the main characteristics of the flame :

  • Scientific name Lama glama , the llama is the largest camelid in all of South America . Today they can be found in several countries, but Bolivia is the one that concentrates the largest number of them.
  • Its wool is of brown tones, with variations that go from dark brown to practically white.
  • It is estimated that it was an animal domesticated by the Incas in the Andes for more than 6,000 years, and it is known that they used them as pack animals and wool producers.

These are the main characteristics of the alpaca :

  • Its scientific name is Vicugna pacos and, like it calls it, it has been a domestic animal for millennia. Its wool is soft and long , producing a high quality fabric, which can be in a large number of shades between black and white, going through gray and brown.
  • Their total height very rarely reaches 1.30 m, and at most it can reach weights of 90 kg, although they are usually much smaller.
  • There are two different races according to their wool, the Suri and the Huacaya.
The vicuña and the guanaco

The alpaca and llama are not the only camelids in South America, although they are the most emblematic. The vicuña and the guanaco also live with them.

  • The vicuña: with a scientific name Vicugna vicugna , it is more closely related to the alpaca, with which it shares more characteristics. It is the smallest camelid, with a total height of up to 1.30 m and no more than 40 kg in weight. It is a slender and small animal, with a brown fur that lightens on the face, belly and legs, and it has not been domesticated, so it is a wild species. It lives in high regions of more than 4,500 meters of altitude, and has been threatened by poaching due to the quality of its wool.
  • The guanaco: scientifically named Lama guanicoe , it is closer to the llama. It lives at altitudes higher than the vicuña, and can be found in greater numbers in Peru. It is also a wild animal, very similar to the llama but smaller than it, weighing up to 90 kg. It has the shortest coat of all South American camelids, brown on the back and white on the belly and chest.

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