WHAT ARE ALPACAS
Alpacas are animals domesticated in the high altitudes of South America thousands of years ago for their luxurious fleece. They are members of the camelid family, which also includes camels, llamas, vicanas and guanacos.
The life span of an alpaca is 20 to 25 years. Females can breed when they weigh 95 pounds, which generally occurs between 14 and 18 months of age. Females are induced ovulators, which means they can be bred year round.
Following an eleven and a half month gestation, they give birth to a single cria that weighs between 15 and 22 pounds. Males usually begin breeding when they are two years old. What types and colours are there? There are two types of alpacas - suri and huacaya. The fleece of the suri hangs in pencil locks like dredlocks, while huacaya fleece is more like sheep's fleece without the lanolin - more of a teddy bear look.
Alpacas come in many different colours ranging from white to black, beige to dark brown. The fleece is prized by spinners for its softness and is warmer and lighter in weight than wool. People who are allergic to wool can often wear garments made of alpaca, which is as soft as cashmere.
WHAT MAINTENANCE DO THEY REQUIRE
Alpacas are relatively hardy and easy to keep. However, a daily check, water and a good diet mainly grass are needed. They require periodic foot trimming (every four months) vaccination (every six months) and worming (every 6 months) and shearing once a year.
DID YOU KNOW
Cria (pronounced cree-ah) is the name for a baby alpaca. It comes from the Spanish word Cria meaning "baby".