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Alpaca facts

 

Types of alpacas
the suri and the huacaya. The suri has fiber that grows quite long and forms silky, pencil-like locks. The huacaya has a shorter, dense, crimpy fleece, giving it a very woolly appearance.

 
The family
The Alpaca is a member of the camelid family, which also includes alpacas, camels, llamas, vicunas, and guanacos. Peru, Bolivia, and Chile are still home to the largest percentage of alpacas in the world

 

Where did they come from?
They were first found in recorded history in the high mountain regions of South America. A common ancestor to the South American camelids migrated to South America about 2.5 million years ago. It is believed that about 6,000 years ago alpacas were created through selective breeding which was heavily influenced by the vicuna. There are similarities in size, fiber, and teeth between the alpaca and the wild vicuna. Today, thanks to the efforts of dedicated officials, the vicuna population has reached a stable population and their fleeces are being harvested. The Peruvian government handed ownership of the animals back to the common villagers of the country, creating a viable and stable source of income for struggling villagers. Vicuna fiber can sell for $250 an ounce.

 

Alpaca life
Alpacas live to be between 15-25 years old. They are smaller than Llamas, typically weighing 100-175 pounds. Females, generally, are sexually mature between 16 months and two years. Male alpacas reach sexual maturity at 2 1/2 to 3 years of age. The average height of an alpaca is 36" at the withers. Alpacas have been known to travel in the family minivan as they usually cush (lay down) during travel.

 

Cria
A cria is a baby alpaca. Alpacas give birth once per year. Crias can usually stand and nurse within the first hour after birth and often frolic around the mother's side that soon. Infant mortality is very low with a gestation period of 11 months, but they have been known to stress their owners out by going much longer. :) Crias usually weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. Twins are very rare

 

Alpaca fiber
Alpaca fiber is stronger and several times warmer than wool, with an incredibly soft, supple touch and a wonderful fineness which crafters desire. The fiber is semi-hollow, making it very lightweight while possessing a thermal warmth unlike other natural fibers. Alpacas come in 22 distinct colors; however it dyes beautifully to meet the current fashion trends.

 
Alpaca husbandry
Alpacas have soft padded feet, making them gentle on their pastures, and they have no top teeth in the front. Alpacas eat grass (know your poisonous plants), hay, grain, and depending upon your location a mineral supplement. While hardy and generally disease resistant, yearly vaccinations, worming, and regular toe and occasional tooth care is recommended. Alpacas are shorn yearly to harvest their exquisite fleece, and for health purposes. Depending upon the area, they are shorn once or twice yearly.
 
Paca sounds
Alpacas make a variety of sounds such as clicks and snorts but are best known and loved for their humming. They make this humming sound in a variety of situations such as when separated from their herd, new crias, and when grazing


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