The Alpaca is a species of South American Camelid, similar to, and often confused with the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. Alpacas and llamas are also closely related to the Vicuna, which is believed to be the alpaca’s wild ancestor, and to the Guanaco.
Alpacas & Llamas are closely related, and can successfully cross-breed. It usually results in a “mini-llama” with a llama looking head on an alpaca size body. Huarizo is the technical term for the cross between a male alpaca and a female llama. Misti is the term for the cross of a female alpaca and a male llama. If the cria (baby) resembles a llama it’s called a warilla. If it resembles an alpaca, it’s called a T’aqa. These crosses are considered undesirable in their native lands of Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Ecuador, and Northern Chile an altitude of 3,500 m to 5,000 m above sea level.