The alpaca (Lama pacos) is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can successfully crossbreed. Both species are believed to have been domesticated from their wild relatives, the vicuña and guanaco. There are two breeds of alpaca: the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.
Alpacas, unlike llamas, were not bred to be working animals but rather were bred specifically for their fiber. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep's wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, and sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia, and 16 as classified in the United States.
Alpacas communicate through body language. The most common manifestation is spitting when they are in distress, fearful, or to show dominance.
An adult alpaca generally is between 32 and 39 inches in height at the shoulders and weighs between 106 and 198 pounds.