What is the difference between Alpacas and Llamas?

Yes, alpacas and llamas come from the same family called the Camelid family.  They are basically cousins, but so different. We get a lot of questions at 1 Stop Alpaca Farm regarding the differences.  The diagram below gives the short version of how they differ from each other.

Some Llama owners will disagree with the “coarse fleece” as they use the llama hair to make wonderful products as well. Alpaca, historically, had their fibre reserved for royalty. Llamas were widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since pre-Hispanic times. Both alpacas and llamas are social animals and need to be apart of a herd. Alpacas especially can get very stressed out if left by themselves. It is best to have 3 alpacas and not just one. 

this is a table that shows the difference between alpacas and llamasBoth alpacas and llamas can spit, they do spit.  Alpacas usually spit at each other in order to display social ranking in the herd. If feeling threatened or cornered, they will protect themselves by spitting. Llamas too spit for social ranking within the herd. They also spit when they are protecting their territory. Most people who get spat at is because they have over stepped their boundaries and came too close to the area where the llama is protecting. They do give fair warning, so if you see ears pinned back and pursed lips, stop or get spat at. Spit happens, we say on the farm.

a chart that explains how the camelid family as decended from their ancestors.This was a chart I found explaining the “family tree”.

a table that shows the family tree of camelids

Now you know the difference between alpacas and llamas. Personally, I enjoy my alpacas and they are nicer and gentler to deal with, but then again, I am biased.  Thanks for reading.

“Once you go alpaca, you don’t go backa”

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About NancyHutchinson

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Nancy Hutchinson always dreamed of marrying a farmer. Little did she know that one day she would become the farmer. Being a city girl did not stop Nancy from loving the land and raising animals since 2000. She has raised alpacacs since 2002 and has not looked back. Her motto is “Once you go alpaca, you don’t go backa!”

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