Alpaca Types



Pronounced wua'ki'ya, this is the most common alpaca type in both South America and Australia. It has a soft bonnet of fibre on the forehead and its cheeks boast 'mutton chops' whilst the dense body fibre grows straight out from the body, not unlike Merino fleece.

Ideally, fleece coverage is even and extends down the legs. Its fleece should show a uniform crimp along the length of the staple.



As a type, the suri (soo'ree) is very much less common than the huacaya, and in Australia only a small percentage of alpacas are suris. This alpaca has fleece with a strongly defined lock. The suri is covered in long, pencil fine locks, not unlike dreadlocks, that hang straight down from the body. The fleece has lustre and its feel is more slippery and silky than that of the huacaya. The predominant suri colours are white or light fawn. Suri numbers continue to grow in Australia, and like the huacaya, the suri responds well to our gentler climate and husbandry practices.

Quick Alpaca Facts

Alpacas... 15 to 20 years

...grow to about 1 metre (at the shoulder).

...weigh up to 70 kg

...gestate for approximately 335 days

...give birth to young weighing usually 6 - 8 kg

Alpacas begin life as Crias

and grow into

...Tuis (Adolescents)

...Hembras (Adult Females)

...Machos (Adult Males)

Do Alpacas need a lot of looking after?

Compared with other livestock, alpacas are relatively disease free.

Because of their dry fleece and naturally clean breech, fly strike is not an issue with alpacas.

They do not require mulesing or crutching.

Other than annual shearing and twice-yearly vaccinations, alpacas require very little else. An occasional trim of toenails and teeth may be required.

Do they make good pets?

Most alpacas make very good pets if they are treated well and the owners are realistic in their expectations.

Like any livestock, the more handling they receive as youngsters, the quieter they are as adults.

Given time, most alpacas will eat out of your hand and training them to lead by a halter is a straightforward process.

Can I just have one or do I need to have lots?

It is possible to have a single alpaca, but it is not a pleasant existence for the animal.

Alpacas are herd animals and are instinctively gregarious, as are other domestic livestock.

They obtain security and contentment from having at least one other alpaca for company.

For this reason, it is usually recommended that two alpacas are the desirable minimum. Sometimes if a single pregnant female is bought for breeding, a wether can go with her for company.

Alpacas spit, don't they?

Yes, but not generally at people.

Spitting is perhaps the least endearing feature of alpacas. It is one of the few defence mechanisms an alpaca has and it is quite an effective deterrent.

Do alpacas need expensive 'extras'?

Alpacas are pseudo-ruminants, and chew cud like a cow. They do well on low protein hay or pasture, provided it has a balanced mineral content. Supplementary feeding should be given in winter and to females in the later stages of pregnancy.

Trees and bushes provide the best protection against extremes of heat and cold.

Most alpacas will not voluntarily seek shelter in sheds.

There is no need for special fencing as alpacas are generally content to stay in their own 'backyards'.

Are alpacas difficult to manage?

No. They are quite at ease with people and quick to learn.

They can be moved easily around a farm without the aid of a dog.

They can be easily transported from place to place in anything from a horse-float to a small van.

Additional Information and fact sheets can be downloaded from the Australian Alpaca Association Website.