Facts about Alpacas
- Origin: South America
- Average height: 1 metre at the shoulder
- Average weight : 60-80 kgs
- Fibre: softer, lighter and stronger than wool
- Fibre production: 3 to 4kgs average per animal (one shearing annually)
- Colour : 22 basic colours
- Gestation : 11.5 months
- Offspring : one cria (baby) every 14-15 months.
- Diet : grass, hay and occasional supplements
- Communication : alpacas express themselves with a soft "humm"
- Hembra : female alpaca
- Machos : male alpaca
Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups, with everyone looking out for each other. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, high pitched shrieking sound.
The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet, and can spit and kick. Some alpacas have the capability of spitting. The "SPIT" is brought up from the acidic stomach and is generally a green grassy mix with a little bit of saliva.
Alpacas mainly spit if they fell like they are in danger, alpacas mainly spit at each other but they will spit at humans if they fell threatened by them. After and alpaca has spat they get what is called a "Frozen Lip" which makes their bottom lip hang this happens because of the unpleasant taste and the high amount of acid that has passed through their mouth.
Alpacas prefer being touched on their body rather than being touched on their head.
To help alpacas control their internal parasites they have a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females who tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and the rest of the herd often follows. Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.
Alpacas make a variety of sounds. When they are in danger, they make a high-pitched, shrieking whine. Some breeds are known to make a "wark" noise when excited. Strange dogs—and even cats—can trigger this reaction.
To signal friendly or submissive behaviour, alpacas "cluck," or "click" a sound possibly generated by suction on the soft palate, or possibly in the nasal cavity.
Individuals vary, but most alpacas generally make a humming sound. Hums are often comfort noises, letting the other alpacas know they are present and content. The humming can take on many different meanings.
When males fight they scream a warbling bird-like cry, this is intended to terrify the opponent.
Alpaca fleece is a lustrous and silky natural fibre. While similar to sheep's wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and bears no lanolin, which makes it non irritable. Without lanolin, it does not repel water. It is also soft and luxurious.
In physical structure, alpaca fibre is somewhat akin to hair, being very glossy.
The preparing, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing process of alpaca is very similar to the process used for wool.