Difference Between Llama And Alpaca

Llamas and alpacas are distinct species with different physical characteristics, behavior, and husbandry requirements.

Difference Between Llama And Alpaca

Llamas and alpacas are both domesticated South American camelids, but they are different species with distinct characteristics. Although they are often confused, it is easy to tell the difference between them if you know what to look for. Here's what you need to know about llamas and alpacas.

Physical Differences

The first noticeable difference is the size. Llamas are bigger than alpacas. Llamas can weigh as much as 400 pounds, while alpacas typically weigh between 100 and 200 pounds.

The second difference is the shape of their heads. Llamas have long, banana-shaped ears that are curved inward, while alpacas have straighter, shorter ears. Llamas have a longer, more prominent snout than an alpaca. Their noses are elongated and shaped like a banana, while an alpaca’s nose is shorter and more blunt. In general, llamas have a more elongated, triangular-shaped face than alpacas.

Llamas are more muscular and have a more sturdy build than alpacas. This is evident in their legs, which are longer and more robust than those of alpacas. Llamas also have a broader chest and a barrel-shaped body, while alpacas have a more compact frame.

The fiber of the animals also differs. Alpacas have finer and more luxurious fleece compared to llamas. Alpaca fiber is soft and fine, measuring between 18-30 microns, while llama fiber is coarser and scratchier, measuring between 25-30 microns. The color of their fiber also varies; alpacas can be white, black, brown, or gray, while llamas' fiber is usually a mix of white, brown, or black.

Behavioral Differences

Llamas and alpacas behave differently. Llamas are more independent and protective, making them good guard animals. These animals are known to behave aggressively towards perceived threats, like predators or unfamiliar people. They communicate through a distinctive alarm call, which is intended to warn the herd of danger.

Alpacas are more social and typically gentler than llamas. They are a calming presence and will often hum to communicate with each other. They are less aggressive than llamas and are often kept in herds.

Llama and Alpaca Husbandry

Llamas and alpacas can be kept together, but it is not recommended. Llamas can be rough with alpacas and may accidentally injure them. It is better to keep them separated or in different pastures.

Both animals require a diet that is rich in fiber, but alpacas need more protein in their diet. They are also more sensitive to changes in their diet and water sources. Llamas are more tolerant and adaptable. Both animals have padded feet that don't require trimming, but their toenails do need to be trimmed regularly.


Whether you’re considering adding an alpaca or a llama to your backyard farm, it's important to know the differences between the two animals. Llamas are larger, stronger, and more aggressive, while alpacas are smaller, gentler, and have more luxurious fiber. While they share some similarities, they are different animals that require different care.

In the end, the choice between a llama and an alpaca will come down to individual needs. If you’re looking for a guard animal or are interested in pack animals, then a llama might be a great fit. If you’re interested in raising animals for their luxurious fiber, then an alpaca might be a better choice. Whatever you decide, both llamas and alpacas are fascinating animals that have a lot to offer.