Sunday, August 31, 2008

Alpacas and Llamas

Yesterday Beth, her son, John, and I went to Lansing to the LlamaFest which is a show for llamas, but they were also showing a few alpacas. There were some vendors there selling products. We visited a while with my dear friend, Kathy. She is making some very stylish hats and purses from alpaca fiber.

Today it occurred to me that many people confuse alpacas and llamas. Until yesterday, I would just say that llamas are much bigger - sometimes up to 500 pounds. But folks are breeding miniature llamas now which are in the same 150 to 200 pound range of alpacas. Probably the best way to tell them apart is the shape of their ears. You can see by the picture above that Gunny's ears are erect and sort of a spear shape, but the llama below and on the left has ears that tip in toward each other.

They are similar in many ways. Both are members of the camelid family.
Their gestation is about 11 months and they have similar life spans. Both llamas and alpacas are induced ovulators which means they can be bred just about any time. Most folks think that alpacas and llamas originated in South America, but studies have shown that these camelid were originally from North America and migrated south.
It's a stretch of my imagination to realize that these cuddly creatures are family members of the camels.