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Alpaca FAQ

Where do alpacas come from?
They are originally from South America – mainly Peru, Chile and Bolivia – but there are now many alpacas in North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

How long do alpacas live?
They can live into their late teens or early twenties and so they are a long-term commitment.

Are alpacas hard to look after?
They need to be fed and checked at least daily and if you keep breeding females, your time commitment will be much greater. However, they are easier to work with than most other livestock

Do alpacas spit?
Yes, they do, but usually at each other.  You will soon learn to read the signs.   It is generally a defensive reaction and most alpacas will avoid spitting if they can

What colours do alpacas come in?
The fleece can be white or black, several shades of grey and many shades of fawn and brown. There are 22 official colours and lots of shades between.   Some alpacas have areas of more than one colour.   

Can I keep just the one alpaca?
No.  Three is the absolute minimum recommended herd size. Alpacas are very “herdy” and are likely to be very stressed if left alone.

Do alpacas need a shelter ?
Yes, they do. They are good at making use of natural shelter - trees, hedges and walls - but they do need a sturdy building for shelter. In summer, they may go in to it to keep away from flies and to get shade.

Can alpacas really guard against foxes?
Yes, they can.   There are lots of reports of alpacas stopping big lamb losses from happening. However, not every alpaca will be suited to this role – the alpaca needs to be bold and aware of its surroundings.   

How often do they need to be sheared?
Alpacas need to be sheared annually and most people will try to get their alpacas sheared in May or June. There are several UK-based shearers and a number of Australians and New Zealanders coming to the UK each  summer.

What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama ?
Alpacas are smaller than llamas and they have been bred and kept for their fleeces whilst llamas’ stronger frames make them better suited to carrying loads.   Apart from size and body shape, they are fairly easy to tell apart - from the front, llamas have banana-shaped ears whilst alpacas’ ears are spear-shaped.