Meet Roxy and Karis, the two alpacas! These crazy camelids join Daphne and Collin the llamas on the big pond paddock!
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Alpacas are a domesticated species which natively inhabit much of southern and western South America in marshy mountain habitats, including some of the highest regions of the Andes Mountains. However, they are now also kept globally.
They are the most specialised of the four South American camelids, living at altitudes up to almost 16,000 feet. They can maintain body temperature at this height due to their strong, insulating coat which is water resistant. As they live in an environment where vegetation is sparse, alpacas have evolved soft padding on their feet which stops them from digging up vegetation as they walk. They also only eat the tips of grass, so it grows back quicker! Their long necks also help them to spot predators.
Primarily grazers but also eat other vegetation.
Around 20 years.
They are social animals, living in herds with usually just one alpha male. They can be aggressive to one another and to threats, spitting, kicking, and making sharp, high-pitched sounds – this makes them excellent ‘guard animals’ in much of South America.
There is no set breeding season for alpacas as females do not ovulate cyclically, but are induced ovulators. This means that they will begin ovulating just before the act of breeding. After just under 12 months, usually a single cria is born. Females are then able to breed again after only 2 weeks!
Alpacas all go to the bathroom in the same area – this is to help minimise parasite transmission!