It looks a lot like a long-necked donkey, or a llama of course. Although it's much smaller so, it is often confused with the latter. The donkey, the dromedary and the guanaco are also his distant cousins. Weighing around 80 kg, the Alpacas are about 75 and 1 m long. It comes in 22 natural colours. An alpaca usually has a lifespan of 20 years.
Alpacas are explorers that consume most of the plant life types, such as grass, fruit, and appetizing herbs. They have a separated upper lip (like a rabbit) that enables them to chew skillfully between long and sharp thorns.
Although they munch their cud like a dog, their food is identical to a goat and their digestive tract is something like a horse and a cat. They enjoy prairie and lucerne hay in relation to green plants and grass, and also concentrate in the form of alpaca nuts, now commercially available (but that should be restricted to 1/2 a cup per day).
Alpacas are typically gentle with humans and other animals not found aggressive. The protection of smaller predators such as dogs and foxes against attack is to scare them away or run down the animal and stomp with its forelegs on it. Alpacas can capture foxes and smaller dogs and are quick runners.
The Guanaco is the other wild Camelid resident in Latin America. Pretty close to a llama in shape, these slim animals prefer to grow to about four feet. Their wool is not respected like the vicuñas with a rough coat, but they are known for their speedy nature, achieving a maximum speed of 35 mph. Whether you're heading deep south to Tierra de Fuego, Patagonia or Peru, as the Guanaco is considered to flourish in dry, arid ecosystems, be on the lookout for these protected creatures.
An alpaca should not be left alone in a barn so as to avoid excessive stress. It is better to have at least 2 alpacas in a barn near the homestead when not needed as guardians, where they can become used to farm dogs, and they will be easy to manage with regular hand feeding. They will grow on regular feed for sheep and, when run with breeding ewes, will appear to be overweight, so they should be kept separately or with dry sheep outside the lambing season.