They're both cute and fluffy, they are close cousins (literally!) and part of the camel family, known as Camelidae. But the similarities end there. Here are six distinguishing features to be able to instantly differentiate. Plus, impress your friends with your know-how.
Left, a Mama Alpaca from our farm and her baby. At right, a Llama.
Alpacas are significantly smaller than Llamas. A full-grown llama can be almost double in size to an adult alpaca. Average adult Alpaca is about 125 lbs compared to the adult Llama at 250 lbs.
Llamas generally have longer or banana-sized ears. While alpacas have shorter, more rounded ears.
Alpacas have small, blunt faces that can be described as having a "smooshed" look. Llamas have more of an elongated face.
Llamas are described to be confident and brave, even having a bit of an attitude sometimes. They are more prone to spitting in defiance or when they feel threatened. Alpacas on the other hand are known to be very shy and gentle and find comfort in a herd.
Alpaca fur is often shaggier and softer. It is frequently used in clothing because of its soft hand, warm yet lightweight, and hyper-allergenic qualities. Llama fur is coarser and can be used to produce rougher hewn things like rugs and rope.
Because of all the differences listed above, their historical purposes for humans diverge. Llamas are commonly used as pack animals, since they are bigger and can carry a generous amount of weight. Alpacas soft fur coats have been used in fiber production for thousands of years. Apparently, clothing made with it comes without the itchiness of wool. Sign me up!