Most of the world's alpaca population is found in South America, in the Altiplano region of Peru-Chile-Bolivia, where they are currently found only on small farms high on the slopes of the Andes.
Their natural habitat is steppe plateaus at an altitude of 4,000 to 5,000 meters above sea level. Because they live in rather harsh climatic conditions, they have adapted to poor-quality plant forage, dry and cold air, and hot temperatures.
They are popular around the world for their fleece, which is highly valued in the textile industry.
They are grass-eating, even-toed mammals related to llamas, vicunas, and guanacos. They feed on grasses, herbs, young shoots and twigs.
The development of alpaca breeding for fiber in other continents began in 1980.
The height at the withers is 80-100 cm.
In general, it is possible to distinguish 20 natural alpaca colors and about 200 shades of these colors.
The bond that binds alpacas to the rest of the herd is so strong that individuals raised separately quickly decline in health and show signs of emotional disturbance.
An alpaca's gestation period is approximately 335-340 days, and usually one offspring is born, weighing up to 9 kg. The female will nurse the young for 6-8 months. Young alpacas reach sexual maturity between the first and second year of life.
Alpacas that feed on silica-rich plants partially wear down their teeth.
The third eyelid is called the haw and moves horizontally.
They also have a nail on the front of their foot that is constantly growing. Under natural conditions, alpacas rub their nails against hard ground.
They also have a nail on the front of their foot that is constantly growing. Under natural conditions, alpacas wear it against hard ground.
These animals are used for so-called alpaca therapy with healthy and handicapped children, as well as the elderly. Being around alpacas has a very positive effect on everyone and breeders say that it is impossible not to like alpacas. You just love them for being there.
Although they are rarely aggressive, they are attached to flocks of free-grazing sheep, where they will defend the sheep from possible predators. If the herd is threatened, they are able to charge at an attacker and scare him off with their stance alone, as they are not equipped with horns or sharp claws.
Alpacas are shorn once a year, yielding 3 to 5 kilograms of fiber.
It has excellent thermal insulating properties, warms much better than sheep's wool, and at the same time is several times lighter than it. It is recommended for allergy sufferers as it is not allergenic.
Thanks to the low content of lanolin (animal wax), it is resistant to dirt and dust mites, and no chemicals are used in its production and maintenance. Because of its special qualities, alpaca wool is considered a luxury product.
The suri's hair grows up to 50 cm long and grows along the body, while the huacaya's hair grows perpendicular to the body. Both breeds can be found in captivity, but the suri is less popular.
It is also successfully used in agriculture as a fertilizer.