What's the difference between a llama and an alpaca?
Many people ask us, what distinguishes an alpaca, from a llama. So we thought we would write this blog post and provide a summary of the primary differences between Alpaca and Llama.
- Purpose: Alpaca have been bred for over 5,000 years for their luxurious fiber, the very one we use in all our products. Llama have been bred over the same period to be pack-carrying animals
- Size: Llamas are much larger than Alpaca, at least double the average Alpaca weight (150lbs) and eight to ten inches taller.
- Hair: Alpaca produce a much finer fiber and in greater quantity than Llama. Alpaca hair comes naturally in a variety of natural colours many of which we use.
- Ears: Alpaca have triangular smaller ears while Llama have much larger and curvier ears
- Facial Features: Alpaca have a rounder, some say friendly, face. The Llama face is more similar to a sheep
- Disposition: They are very different animals in terms of behaviour. Alpaca tend to be more reserved and herd oriented. Llama can be more individual and independent.
Above is a summary of the differences. To understand truly what makes Alpaca different, and why we use it for our gorgeous handmade sweaters, we want to talk a bit about the history of the Alpaca and it's fiber.
The origin of the animal is complicated, but it is widely acknowledged that alpacas are a cross between vicuñas and llamas. This cross occurred some six thousand years ago and resulted in the animal we know as Alpaca.
They were deeply symbolic for the Incan civilisations of Perú and their valuable fleece was exclusively for the use of royalty. While the Spanish controlled Perú they eliminated much of the alpaca as they considered them to be competitors to their sheep.It was not until the 200 years ago when it became, once again, recognised as an excellent fiber in terms of softness, durability and warmth. Since the 1800s they have been utilised for their remarkable fibre in some of the finest clothiers in the world, including ours. We recognise the inherent value of alpaca fiber and believe, for knitwear, it is the finest material in the world. If an alpaca garment properly taken care of, it can be a lifelong friend.
We know Alpaca clothing better than anyone, and are thrilled to offer you handmade Alpaca knitwear.