Llamas and alpacas are both camelids from South America and remarkably similar. But for someone who knows what they’re looking for, the differences are clear.
Here’s 5 ways to spot the difference:
Llamas are bigger
Llamas tend to be considerably bigger than alpacas, usually about twice the size. Llamas average a weight of around 200 – 300lbs, and some can even reach 400lbs. Alpacas, on the other hand, are usually a mere 100 – 175lbs, even when fully grown. This makes it much easier to spot the difference when they’re together, but how about when they’re not?
Check the ears!
The ears are a really big tell when trying to spot the difference. As you can see here, an alpaca has short, triangular ears, not dissimilar to a horse. The llama, on the other hand, is sporting almost banana-shaped ears which are incredibly distinctive. If you can’t compare size, check those ears!
Are they in a herd?
Alpacas and llamas are both herd animals. But whilst both llamas and alpacas enjoy the sociability of being in a herd, some keepers report definite differences in how they interact on a daily basis. Alpacas feel a strong need to be with other alpacas in a herd most of the time, whilst llamas are often more independent and can live without other llamas. Sometimes alpacas and llamas are kept together.
Take a look at their coats
The coats of llamas and alpacas are very different. Llamas have a coarser ‘outer coat’ and a softer coat beneath that. Alpacas have a much finer, single coat. Despite the difference in size, llamas produce less fibre than their smaller cousins. Llama and alpaca fleeces come in many colours, from white all the way to black with beige and brown variants in between. White is often a favoured colour, however, due to the ease of dyeing it.
Look closely at their face
This is another easy way to tell them apart. Llamas have longer faces with less hair. Alpacas are definitely fuzzier, and their faces are smaller. Alpacas may also have a tuft of hair upon their head which falls into their eyes.
Llamas and alpacas are becoming more popular sights around farmland in the UK. So now you’re ready to go out and spot the differences between them!