Alpaca

Vicugna pacos

An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.

There are two breeds of alpaca; the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.

Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 m to 5,000 m above sea level, throughout the year. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fiber. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, and sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.

In the textile industry, "alpaca" primarily refers to the hair of Peruvian alpacas, but more broadly it refers to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair, but now often made from similar fibers, such as mohair, Icelandic sheep wool, or even high-quality English wool. In trade, distinctions are made between alpacas and the several styles of mohair and luster.

An adult alpaca generally is between 81 and 99 cm in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 48 and 84 kg .
White Alpaca on a local Alpaca farm outside of Smethport PA. Alpaca farms are fast becoming a popular trend across America. This white alpaca is a member of a herd consisting of approximately 100 others. Bred primarily for their hair (which can be woven into sweaters, hats, etc.) these strange looking animals tend to be very friendly and often thought of as "pets". Alpaca,Geotagged,United States,Vicugna pacos

Naming

The relationship between alpacas and vicuñas was disputed for many years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the four South American lamoid species were assigned scientific names. At that time, the alpaca was assumed to be descended from the llama, ignoring similarities in size, fleece and dentition between the alpaca and the vicuña. Classification was complicated by the fact that all four species of South American camelid can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. The advent of DNA technology made a more accurate classification possible.

In 2001, the alpaca genus classification changed from ''Lama pacos'' to ''Vicugna pacos'', following the presentation of a paper on work by Dr. Jane Wheeler et al. on alpaca DNA to the Royal Society showing the alpaca is descended from the vicuña, not the guanaco.
Alpaca Portrait, Zie-Zoo, Netherlands I kind of pity this animal. It's shown in many zoos and in pet farms, yet it always seems bored and lifeless. People don't genuinely seem entertained by them and largely ignore them. They cannot be used to ride, and seem to serve no purpose in a human settlement, other than possibly wool. 

It's the animal very widely showcased, yet the most ignored. Let's give it some love. Alpaca,Europe,Netherlands,Vicugna pacos,Volkel,World,Zie-Zoo,Zoo

Behavior

Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups consisting of a territorial alpha male, females and their young. Alpacas warn the herd 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 can spit and kick.
Shaven dreadlocks Doesn't that look cozy? Standing there and eating, more moss than actual grass. It must originate from some exotic island, my mind spins. I don't know, do you know what species (except llama/sheep/alien) this is? Pretty though.  Just for sharing:) Alpaca,Geotagged,Lama glama,Llama,The Netherlands,Vicugna pacos,dreadlock,llama,shaven

Reproduction

Females are induced ovulators; the act of mating and the presence of semen causes them to ovulate. Females usually conceive after just one breeding, but occasionally do have troubles conceiving. Artificial insemination is technically difficult, but it can be accomplished. Alpacas conceived from artificial insemination are not registerable with the Alpaca Registry.

A male is usually ready to mate for the first time between two and three years of age. A female alpaca may fully mature between 10 and 24 months. It is not advisable to allow a young female to be bred until she is mature, and has reached two-thirds of her mature weight. Over-breeding a young female before conception is possible is a common cause of uterine infections. As the age of maturation varies greatly between individuals, it is usually recommended that novice breeders wait until females are 18 months of age or older before initiating breeding.

The gestation period is, on average, 11.5 months, and usually results in a single offspring, or ''cria''. Twins are rare, occurring about once per 1000 deliveries. Cria are generally between 15 and 19 pounds, and are standing 30 to 90 minutes after birth. After a female gives birth, she is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks. Crias may be weaned through human intervention at about six months old and 60 pounds, but many breeders prefer to allow the female to decide when to wean her offspring; they can be weaned earlier or later depending on their size and emotional maturity.

Alpacas can live for up to 20 years.
Alpaca nose closeup loving my new canon camera that can capture the individual hairs on this alpaca's nose Alpaca,Vicugna pacos

Food

Alpacas require much less food than most animals of their size. They generally eat hay or grasses, but can eat some other plants , and will normally try to chew on almost anything . Most alpaca ranchers rotate their feeding grounds so the grass can regrow and fecal parasites may die before reusing the area.

Alpacas can eat natural unfertilized grass; however, ranchers can also supplement grass with low-protein grass hay. To provide selenium and other necessary vitamins, ranchers will feed their domestic alpacas a daily dose of grain. Free-range alpacas may obtain the necessary vitamins in their native grazing ranges.
Alpaca (Vicugna Pacos) Did you know UK farmers have not stopped at just using alpacas to guard chickens, they also use them for guarding sheep as they do in Australia. I just love the silky noses they have especially the white variety! Alpaca,Geotagged,United Kingdom,Vicugna pacos

Evolution

The relationship between alpacas and vicuñas was disputed for many years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the four South American lamoid species were assigned scientific names. At that time, the alpaca was assumed to be descended from the llama, ignoring similarities in size, fleece and dentition between the alpaca and the vicuña. Classification was complicated by the fact that all four species of South American camelid can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. The advent of DNA technology made a more accurate classification possible.

In 2001, the alpaca genus classification changed from ''Lama pacos'' to ''Vicugna pacos'', following the presentation of a paper on work by Dr. Jane Wheeler et al. on alpaca DNA to the Royal Society showing the alpaca is descended from the vicuña, not the guanaco.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderArtiodactyla
FamilyCamelidae
GenusVicugna
SpeciesV. pacos