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|Alpaca - Vicugna pacos|
The alpaca originated in South America and it belongs to the camelid
family, these herd animals are domesticated and are kept in herd
that live and graze at quite high level in the Andes. They can be
found in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador.
The alpaca is quite smaller than the llama and for this reason its not used as beasts of burden, due to its fibre which is not woolen but fleece they are kept for this purpose, their fleece is quite usefull in the making of clothes, blankets, and the traditional South Amercian ponchos.
Alpacas have 52 different colours which makes this variety of fibres very usefull in the making of clothes.
The alpaca has straight ears and stubby tails, these animals are social herd animals and its not advisable to be kept alone, they should be kept with other animals of their species, they can be kept with other camelids.
They are gentle, elegant, intelligents and they are extremelly observant andinquisitive, they are also very nervous. If the herd feels its in danger it won't think twice before spitting or kicking, it's feet have pads and not hooves so their kick is not as dangerous but it will hurt quite a lot, be carefull with the pointed nails which can give you a nasty cut.
It takes some time for their owners to gain the trust of the alpacas, once they feel confident with you they will allow you to touch their backs and necks, be carefull they don't like getting grabbed and they won't doubt kicking you. Young bred with humans and animals which have been well socialized most animals will tolerate being stroked anywhere on their bodies although they don't usually like their legs or abdomen touched.
If you need to catch an alpaca we recommend you hold them tight round the neck firmly with your arms although remember they are very strong animals.
Surprisingly alpacas are very hygenic, they can actually be house-trained, these animals have a communal dung pile where they don't graze, this proves very usefull as it avoid worms to be transmitted from one animal to another as they don't graze where they dirty.
Males becomes sexually active between the age of one and three years, females between the age of one and two years. Although it is advisable for both males and females to be 18 months old before attempting to breed with them.
Gestation last 11 and a half months and they usually have a sole offspring, ocassionally twins can be seen although it is quite rare, the young alpaca can be weaned from the mother when its about 6 months old although this depends on the maturity and size of the offspring.
The usual lifespan is about 20 years although its quite common for them to live longer, they have know to live up to 29 years.
Many plants are poisonous to the alpaca, be carefull with oleander, azaleas, fireweed and bracken fern.