Difference Between Alpaca and Llama

Llamas and Alpacas belong to the same class of family, the camelid family; this is why people tend to confuse the two. They do have a few similarities as well, apart from their looks. Both these animals spit.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Alpacas and llamas are two South American camelids that are often confused with each other.
  2. Alpacas are smaller than llamas and are primarily bred for their soft fleece, while llamas are more extensive and are used as pack animals and for meat and wool production.
  3. Alpacas have a shorter snouts and are more docile than llamas.

Alpaca vs Llama

The difference between an alpaca and a llama is their face. Llamas have longer curved ears, and their faces are also longer. An alpaca’s ears are much smaller, and their faces are smaller and squished. Alpacas have been bred specifically for their fur. Their fur is used in all sorts of textiles ranging from blankets, sweaters, gloves, scarves, etc. Alpacas are identified to converse through body language.

Alpaca and Llama

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They spit when they are angry or upset. Spitting helps alpacas show dominance.

Llamas are very social animals and tend to roam around in herds. They can be trained to an extent. They can be taught a few simple tasks after a few repetitions.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonAlpacasLlamas
LocationFound all over South America. Mainly found in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. Found all over the world. In Australia, North America and Europe. A common sight in South America as well. Especially in Peru
EarsSmall ears are almost pear-shaped. Longer banana-shaped ears.
SizeMuch smaller compared to Llamas. They average 180 pounds. They are reared more for their fur.Llamas can get very heavy and average almost 400 pounds. This is one of the main reasons why llamas are used as pack animals.
FacesSmaller and rounder faces. Their faces generally have a squished look. Longer faces. 
BreedingAlpacas are bred for their fur. They have wonderful hair, and their fleece comes in twenty-two colours.Llamas are bred for their meat. They are extensively used as pack animals as they can carry big loads. 
TemperamentThey are more of pack animals and are extremely jumpy and nervous animals. Llamas are independent as compared to alpacas and are used to guard other herd animals, such as sheep and alpacas.


What is Alpaca?

Alpacas are very ancient animals. They were domesticated by the Incas almost 6000 years ago.

They are reared for their magnificent fleece and wool. Alpacas are slender-bodied animals.

They have long legs, necks, small ears, and an almost squished mouth. Their average weight is about 60kgs, and their average height comes to around 3 feet. 

There are two types of alpacas in the world. Suri and Huacaya. The Suri has long fibres that are incredibly silky.

The Huacaya has woolly, thick, and ruffled fleece.

Alpacas come in different colours, varying from brown, white, black, tan, and grey. Alpacas are found only in central and southern Peru and western Bolivia.

They are limitedly distributed. This makes the demand for their fleece high.

The alpacas’ fleece is exceptionally lightweight and strong. It is brilliant and luminous, with high resistance to rain and snow.

Alpacas tend to live in marshy grounds with an altitude of 4000-4700 feet. They have adapted to the limited oxygen found in this region and have a high number of red blood cells. 

Alpacas hum a lot. It is the most common sound they make.

They hum when happy, inquisitive, stressed, anxious or disturbed, bored, etc. 


What is Llama?

Llama (Llama Glama) is a mammal and belongs to the same class as that camels; Camelidae (order Artiodactyla). Llamas do not have the characterized hump that camels possess.

They are lean-bodied animals. They have long necks as well as ears with short tails and small heads. 

They are herbivorous animals. They feed on grass and other plants. Like cows, they regurgitate their food and eat it as cud.

They don’t require a lot of water. This makes them perfect to use in rigid mountainous terrains with sparse vegetation. 

When they are agitated or nervous, they spit. It helps them show dominance.

Llamas are found all over the world. The Indians maintain most of the packs in South America in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina.

Llamas are pack animals but are also used for their meat, hides, wool, and tallow, which is used for candle making. Their dung is used for fuel as well.

Llamas are pack animals that can be saddled, weighing about 70 pounds.

With such weight, they can cover a distance of about 18 miles. Llamas are disposed of as animals but only till a certain point.

If their weight is too much, they will refuse to move. Most of the time, they lie down until their weight is reduced.

Llamas will also spit if they are irritated too much.


Main Differences Between Alpaca and Llama

The main differences between a llama and an alpaca are:

  1. A llama has long banana-shaped ears, while an alpaca has slightly more pointed ears. 
  2. Llamas are used more for carrying huge weights and can survive in harsh terrains for a longer time. They are used for their meat as well. Their dung is used as fuel. Alpacas, on the other hand, are reared for their lustrous fleece and wool. Since alpacas are mainly found only in southern America, their wool has a high demand in the markets.
  3. A llama’s face is much longer than an alpaca’s. It also has much less wool on the face. On the other hand, an alpaca has a much smaller face with a lot more wool. The alpaca’s face almost looks squished. 
  4. Llamas are a lot bigger and are used for carrying a lot more weight. They are also used to guard other herd animals like sheep and alpacas. Alpacas are a lot lighter and smaller than llamas.
  5. Alpacas can die of loneliness and need a companion with it all the time. Llamas are very independent and tend to like being alone.
Difference Between Alpaca and Llama
  1. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2001.1774
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0040517509337634
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378432096016302
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