Alpacas vs Llamas: Telling the Two Apart

During the Nebraska State Fair, Garrett and I walked through the various barns. We found ourselves in the alpaca/llama/goat barn where we admired all the animals, and got a chuckle out of the costume contest going on.
There was one alpaca (see picture) that was quietly and constantly “talking.” It was a bit of a groan mixed with a hum.
Garrett, being Garrett, decided to talk back. I think they carried on the conversation for a good 5-7 minutes until a random man came walking by, looked at the alpaca, and said, “llama, llama, llama” very fast and very loudly, and then left. Garrett and the his new alpaca buddy, stared at each other shocked and appalled. You see, alpacas and llamas, while camelid cousins, are not the same.
If you want to avoid calling an alpaca a llama and vice versa, there are a few signs to look for. Know the differences and avoid offending these guys. You’ll also prevent yourself from looking a bit silly like that llama, llama, llama man did.

Ears: Perhaps the easiest distinguishing factor between llamas and alpacas is their ears. Llamas have banana shaped ears while alpacas have straight, pointed ears.

Size: Alpacas are much smaller than their cousins, weighing around 100-200 pounds. Llamas weigh 250-450 pounds.

Fiber: Alpacas are known for their soft, luxurious fiber. A llama’s fiber is much coarser.

Purpose: Llamas are used as pack or guard animals. Alpacas are used for their fleece. Llamas are actually used to protect alpaca herds.

Temperament: Llamas are rather brave and bold, hence their purpose. Meanwhile, alpacas are shy and more docile.

Now, test yourself–is the costume class pictured above for llamas or alpacas?

I wonder if Garrett would be up for an alpaca now that he’s bonded with one? Good thing we live in an apartment, so it isn’t really an option 😉


One thought on “Alpacas vs Llamas: Telling the Two Apart

  1. Thank you for explaining that llamas can be used to protect alpaca herds. I think it’s interesting that they can act as guards, since I’d never heard that they had the temperament for it. It makes me want to visit an alpaca herd nearby, and see if they have llamas guarding them.

    Liked by 1 person

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