1. Tummy talk
As herbivores, alpacas only eat vegetation. They eat mostly grass, but their diets can also include leaves, wood, bark and stems. The alpaca’s stomach is divided into compartments that work together to digest his food.
2. Alpaca language
Humming is the most common sound alpacas make, which has been described as a kind of musical purring. Alpacas hum when they are curious, content, worried, bored, fearful, distressed or cautious.
3. Kind at heart
The alpaca is a gentle and docile animal. Some may be more laid- back than others, but he is generally considered a friendly fellow who is also intelligent and curious. And while no animal should be approached in an irresponsible manner, the alpaca is said to have a special affinity for children.
4. Long in the tooth
An alpaca’s teeth keep growing throughout his life. Fortunately, if his teeth are aligned correctly, chewing food will help to wear them down. A common problem in the species is when the animal has a longer lower jaw, in which case the teeth will need to be trimmed on occasion.
Alpacas love to sunbathe. They will relax by lying down on their sides and stretching out. Some alpaca owners say that they almost look like they have died in this position, but fortunately they are just soaking up some sun.
6. Snip snip!
When the alpaca eats grass, he snips off the top of the plant with the help of a split upper lip. This is unlike some other animals who pull the grass up by the root when eating. That explains why the alpaca is considered a good lawnmower!
7. Protector of sheep
In Peru, alpacas are sometimes kept with herds of sheep for protection while both the sheep and alpacas graze away on grass. Because of his height, the alpaca can see predators coming towards the herd. The alpaca will protect the sheep by chasing the predators away.
8. Top of the class
Alpacas learn very quickly and have long memories. They can recognise other alpacas they have been close to, even after not seeing them for a long time! Once these curious animals learn something, they do very well remembering it.
9. Safety first
The alpaca is a herd animal who enjoys the company of his community. Alpacas warn their herd members about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet, and they can also spit and kick.
10. Family matters
The baby alpaca, called a cria or alpaclette, weighs 8 to 9kg when he is born. The cria is weaned at six to eight months, and females are ready to reproduce at 12 to 15 months. Males take a bit longer to mature and are ready to mate at 30 to 36 months. Alpacas live up to 20 years.