Frequently Asked Questions...

What's the difference between an alpaca and a llama?

Alpacas and llamas are members of the camelid family. Llamas are pack animals, and about twice the size of the alpaca. Alpacas grow a prized coat of fiber, and are too small for use as a pack animal. And we think the alpaca is much cuter than its cousin, the llama.

Are there different kinds of alpaca?

There are 2 kinds of alpaca - Suri (rhymes with jury) and Huacaya (wha-ki'-ya). Suri comprise about 10% of the world's alpacas, and Huacaya 90%. Suri fiber is long, straight, lustrous, and silky, often shorn every 2 years. Huacaya fiber is dense, crimpy, and warmer than Suri, and shorn annually in late spring. We raise Huacaya alpacas at Krystal Acres.

How is alpaca fiber different from sheep's wool and other natural fibers?

Alpaca fiber is as fine as the finest wool, and much stronger. It is over 5 times as warm as wool. Alpaca is very soft, and is ideal for garments worn next to the skin. Alpaca comes in 22 natural colors, the widest range of any animal on the planet. It is among the world's most luxurious fibers. Most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a cashmere and alpaca garment.

What's special about baby alpacas?

Alpacas have a single baby, called a cria (cree'-ah). It takes over 11 months for the baby to develop, and it weighs between 14 and 20 pounds at birth. Labor is typically short, from 1 to 3 hours, and births are usually daytime events. The cria is weaned at about 6 months. It is also when we train them to lead on a halter.

Do alpacas spit like llamas?

Alpacas are gentle and quite intelligent. Spitting is a communication behavior between alpacas, and they rarely spit at people unless provoked.

Can they be petted?

Alpaca are herd animals, and tend to keep to themselves. When they are on halter, they are trained to stand quietly and allow touching. Given a choice, they will usually step away from attempts to pet them.

What sounds do they make?

The most common sound you'll hear is a soft humming which indicates they are unsure. Mother and cria hum to each other for bonding. When alarmed, alpaca alert other herd members to danger with a sharp sequence of barks. Amorous males sing or "orgle" to the female during breeding.

How much do they cost?

Alpacas are herd animals, so you need to have 2 for companionship. Registered alpaca range in price from $1,000 to over $100,000, depending on gender, age, and ranking at national alpaca shows.

"Pet" quality, unregistered alpacas are from $500 to $1,000. These are usually neutered males.