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Alpaca Facts for Kids

15 Amazing Alpaca Facts for Kids That They Never Know

Alpaca is an Andean mammal related to the llama. Alpacas are raised as working animals in the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. They were domesticated by Andean Indians more than 5,000 years ago, who valued its dense, warm fleece. Alpacas are easy to care for and have a pleasant disposition. They are not only cute but gentle, intelligent and trainable. What’s more, they form strong bonds with their human caretakers and other alpacas.

Let’s get to know more about this lovely animal with more Alpaca facts for kids in this article. We will reveal some interesting facts about Alpacas you probably didn’t know, giving you new insights and make you fall in love more with this animal. From its unique habit to trivia facts, those Alpaca facts for kids below will also broaden your knowledge. 

1. Alpacas Have 22 Different Colors

Rather of being referred to as “fur” or “wool,” the alpaca’s hair is called “fleece” or “fiber.” Alpaca fiber comes in 22 different natural colors, from mahogany brown to light fawn and champagne, and from silver to rose gray and white. Alpacas can be bred for a specific color, however many alpaca producers have struggled to produce gray offspring.

Alpaca fibers readily accept dye, expanding the range of colors available for textile manufacture. Alpaca combines beautifully with both natural and artificial fibers, thus extending its value in the textile industry.

2. Alpacas Communicate In Hums Like Donkeys

Alpacas continuously exchange messages with one another via body language, tail and ear movements, and a range of sounds. The most frequent sound is a quiet humming, a benign expression appropriate for a sensitive animal. They hum with their mouths closed, and the tone and volume of the sound might vary.

Actually, their hums can stand in for a wide range of emotions. It can be used to signal their presence to the rest of the herd and to convey happiness.  It can also be used to indicate discomfort. In order to distinguish between various sorts of humming sounds, you will need to seek for contextual and situational cues.

3. Alpacas Can Spit Up To 10 Feet

Alpacas spit for a variety of reasons, such as food rivalry, self-defense, and to fend off repeated male advances. Although alpacas utilize spitting as a form of communication and intimidation, it is typically only used as a last resort. Alpacas will vomit their stomach contents and spit them up to 10 feet away if the offending person doesn’t get the message and backs off.

Alpacas occasionally spit on humans, but only to reinforce their social hierarchy. Spitting is really frequently employed as a final line of defense. If an alpaca spits on a human, it indicates that the latter was unable to recognize the warning indications.

4. Their Fleece Is Water And Fire Resistant

Alpacas have water-repellent fleece. Alpaca fibers have excellent wicking properties, which prevent water from being absorbed. It can only absorb 30% of its body weight, though. Additionally, the fiber has a unique structure that promotes rapid evaporation of water.

In addition, alpaca fleece is also extremely flame resistant by nature. It releases modest heat, ignites slowly, and possesses self-extinguishing properties. In contrast to synthetic fibers, it chars rather than melts and emits no dangerous gasses.

5. Alpacas Can Live Up To 25 years

Alpacas have a 25-year life span in captivity. For land animals, that’s a rather long life span! The oldest alpaca lived to be 27 years old, although most do not. However, the animals’ overall longevity can be greatly influenced by the environment in which they dwell.

In fact, alpacas in the wild do not exist now. The alpaca of today has undergone extensive breeding to produce wool quickly. They produce wool so quickly that a person must shear them in order to prevent them from producing too much for their own health. In this respect, they resemble sheep somewhat.

6. Llapaca and Huarizo Are Cross Breed Babies with Llamas

The offspring of a female llama and a male alpaca is known as a llapaca. Because they are simpler to distribute, they may be more attractive. The alpaca is smaller than a llama, making childbirth simpler and easier for the llama.

Meanwhile, a male llama and a female alpaca are crossed to create a huarizo. The most typical hybrid of South American camelids, huarizo are smaller and have longer fiber than llamas. They make excellent pets for elderly people in nursing homes because they are typically much friendlier than alpacas.

7. Alpacas Don’t Have Top Teeth

In fact, alpacas only have lower teeth, which continue to erupt throughout the animal’s life. Lower teeth are kept at the ideal length for eating, biting, and whistling at attractive female alpacas by grinding against an extremely hard upper palate. Because of this, only the lower jaw of a chewing llama shows teeth when you look at it closely. The top front teeth are replaced with a toothless, rubbery plate or dental pad that helps them chew.

These teeth are big and ideal for grinding food, which is necessary for healthy digestion. They aid in the animal’s digestion of food and enable it to chew partially digested cud that rises from the stomach, much like a cow.

8. Alpacas Are Friendly and Don’t Like To Live Alone

Alpacas are generally peaceful and kind creatures. They flourish in herds because they have the instincts of prey animals, which means they will keep an eye out and may spook if alarmed. They are amenable to getting along with donkeys, goats, sheep, and other agricultural animals. This makes the animal perfect as a pet or dog guard.

The majority of alpacas will allow you to pet them on their backs and necks and even give them a hug once you’ve gained their trust through familiarity. Furthermore, alpacas are much friendlier and more accepting of kids than they are of people, probably because kids are smaller and less scary than adults.

9. All Alpacas Are Domesticated

Since they have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, there are no wild alpacas. There is no known colony of wild alpacas roaming freely on a tall mountain anywhere in the world because they were domesticated thousands of years ago. Alpacas were domesticated by Andean farmers and herders between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago.

The Incas treasured and regarded these creatures, which resemble large lambs with long necks, as true treasures. They obtained clothing, food, and fuel from Alpacas. Additionally, alpaca fiber was once only worn by the noble Incas, earning the nickname “the fiber of the gods.”

10. Alpacas Gives Birth To Just One Baby A Year

Alpacas Gives Birth To Just One Baby A Year

Alpacas typically give birth to one child a year. Twins are very rare, with one set being born in every 10,000.  A baby alpaca, usually known as a cria, weighs between 6 and 8 kg at birth. They have an adult weight limit of 70 kg. Crias are able to stand soon after birth. 

Alpacas can be mated at any time of the year because they are induced ovulators. Between 242 and 345 days, or about 11 months, pass during their gestation period. They only give birth to one child at a time. Typically, crias are born between May and September throughout the spring.

11. Alpacas Fleece Is Warmer Than Sheep Wool

Because the fiber of alpacas has more hollow space than that of sheep, it has an advantage over sheep wool. This increased room increases the textile’s thermal capacity, enables more warm air to fill it, and gives it more warmth than sheep’s wool equivalent. Alpaca is softer, stronger, warmer, and less water-retentive than wool. When you consider the entire impact, it’s also a more environmentally sustainable choice.

The fleece of alpacas comes in two varieties. Huacaya produces the most popular type of fleece. Huacaya fiber develops and has a “fluffy” appearance comparable to that of sheep wool. Suris are the second type of alpaca and make up less than 10% of the total population in South America.

12. Alpacas Are The Smallest Members of The Camel Family

Alpacas Are The Smallest Members of The Camel Family

Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicunas, South American ruminants that live high in the Andes. Because of this, alpacas, which have shoulders that measure roughly 36 inches tall, are the smallest members of the camel family. In addition, they only weigh around 110 pounds, ten times lower than camels.

The guanaco, on the other hand, is the biggest wild camelid in South America. It is thought to be the domestic llama’s ancestor. These species, which belong to the Camelidae subfamily of camels, are mostly found in Bolivia and Peru.

13. They Migrated Million Years Ago and Live In South America

They Migrated Million Years Ago and Live In South America

Although they were originally from Peru, alpacas were endemic to all of South America. They are the offspring of camelids, which originated in North America and moved to South America three million years ago. The foothills of several mountains and high plateaus, including the Andean ranges in Bolivia and the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Oriental, are where you can find them.

The Spanish invasion brought war, disease and foreign animals, mainly cows, sheep and horses. These animals swiftly seized control of the lower-quality grazing ground, forcing the village owners and their herds of alpacas to relocate to the Andes mountains’ upper plains. They served as work animals, a source of food and furs, and were crucial to the early people groups of the area’s existence.

14. They Scream While In Danger

They Scream While In Danger

An alpaca’s warning of impending danger is screaming. Alpacas utilize their alarm call to alert people to potential danger, but they also have a different sound they save for when they are actually in trouble. The scream is loud and high-pitched, and it has a peculiar trilling sound that may bring to mind dial-up internet noise from earlier in time. Additionally, male alpacas yell at one another when they fight and warn one another to remain off their patch.

When they’re hurt, alpacas groan. Some veterinarians have observed that alpacas can emit sounds resembling those made by people who are experiencing stomach aches during uncomfortable circumstances like pregnancy and intestinal diseases. Additionally, when infants have colic, they may create a barely audible noise from grinding their teeth.

15. Alpaca Fleece Is The Second Strongest Animal Fiber After Mohair

Alpaca Fleece Is The Second Strongest Animal Fiber After Mohair

Except for mohair, alpaca fleece is the world’s toughest natural fiber. This strong feature does not diminish as alpaca fleece gets finer with lower micron, making alpaca fleece a highly sought-after product. Alpaca fiber is closer to cashmere in quality and thinner than mohair, yet it is less expensive.

Alpaca fiber’s staple strength is measured by N/ktex. Alpaca fleece has been determined to have an average staple strength of about 50 N/ktex. In other words, it takes 50 Newtons of force to break the average lock or cluster of alpaca hair.

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