Can You Own A Pet Alpaca or Llama?

Should you keep an Alpaca or a Llama as a pet? When it comes to pets, Americans have a special love for Alpacas and Llamas. In the entire west, the fantasy of having them is as common as domesticating a dog or cat. But are Alpacas/Llamas really worth as pets?

Both Alpacas and Llamas are excellent companions, which makes them easier as pets. Domesticated for a variety of purposes, both have an exotic allure giving them popularity and priority amongst pet lovers. Even though when domesticating Alpaca/Llama isn’t very easy, they are increasingly turning up all over the country. And why not? These beautiful fluffy creatures are very fun to have across, especially for individuals who own a considerable outdoor space.

However, before jumping in to bring home a pet Alpaca/Llama, it is better to do a quick research. By ensuring that it is the right pet for you and vice versa, you can make many lives easy. With that said, let’s shed some light on ‘Owning a pet Alpaca/ Llama.

Difference between an Alpaca and a Llama

Alpaca and Llama are species of South American camelid mammal. Both the animals are closely associated, and thus individuals often confuse them, especially due to their appearance. Due to their close relationship, it is even possible to crossbreed Alpacas and Llamas.

Here is some difference that helps in identifying Alpacas and Llamas as different animals:

Alpacas are short and less weighted, whereas Llamas are taller and have a considerable weight. Alpacas stand about 34 and 36 inches and weigh up to 150 pounds. At the same time, Llamas stand about 42 and 46 inches and weigh up to 400 pounds.

Can You Own A Pet Alpaca or Llama?
  • Alpacas produce more fleece in a variety of colors and a finer fiber the Llamas.
  • Alpacas have blunt, smooshed faces, whereas Llamas have longer faces.
  • Alpacas are majorly bred for their fiber, whereas Llamas are more popular as pack animals and for their meat.
  • Alpacas prefer living in the herd, whereas Llamas prefer staying independent. 
  • Alpacas’ coat is of uniform color, whereas Llamas’ coat is more likely to have different shades.
  • Alpacas majorly live in central and southern Peru. In contrast, Llamas live high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia.

History of Alpacas and Llamas: According to researches, both Alpacas and Llamas are bred from Guanaco and Vicuña species. Both their ancestors originated from the Great Plains of North America about 40 million years ago. Today, while Guanaco is common in South America, Vicuna is extremely rare and thus protected.

Alpacas and Llamas Species Overview

NameAlpacasLlamas
Other NamesNoneNone
Scientific NamesVicugna pacosLama Glama
KingdomAnimaliaAnimalia
PhylumChordataChordata
ClassMammaliaMammalia
OrderArtiodactylaArtiodactyla
FamilyCamelidaeCamelidae
GenusLamaLama
SpeciesL.pacosL.glama
SizeHeight 34 and 36 inches and weigh up to 150 poundsHeight 42 and 46 inches and weigh up to 400 pounds.
Lifespan15 to 20 yearsUp to 20 years

Do Alpacas/ Llamas Make Good Pets?

Both Alpacas and Llamas are easy to care for, and therefore they make good pets. Their calm, social, and trainable nature make them one of the best outdoor pets.

These fun and friendly animals are an awesome addition to any homestead, given one has enough time, energy, and resources to help them grow.

Especially for someone who already owns or has experience owning livestock, both Alpaca and Llama will make an excellent pet for them.

Is It Legal To Keep Alpacas and Llamas As A Pet in Australia?

Alpacas and Llamas aren’t common in Australia, but their demand and tradition as pets are definitely growing. Though it is legal to keep Alpacas/ Llamas as pets in Australia, there are a number of considerations.

For instance, an individual must have 2,001 to 4,000 square meters of space for housing up to 2 Alpacas/ Llamas. Also, a No objection certificate from the house/ property owner as well as approval from the local legislature is necessary.

Are Alpacas/ Llamas legal in the U.S.?

In the United States, both Alpacas and Llamas are considered animal livestock. Several pet enthusiasts and commercial space own Alpacas/ Llamas as either pets or trophy animals for keeping on human display.

Even when New York City has strict laws for pet animals, a private person requires no permit to import Alpacas and Llamas here. Only a fresh Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is a must.

Similarly, in many other U.S. states and even the Southern American region, Alpacas/ Llamas are legal, and one can keep them as pets. However, since local laws in many regions might differentiate, we strongly urge you to check with your local legislature first.

Keeping Alpacas/ Llamas as pets- All that you might need to know

Alpacas/ Llamas Housing Needs

For housing an Alpacas or a Llama, one must have at least half an acre of space per animal. And as the number of animals increases, so should the space must. Both the animals require huge space to roam and run around. Across the acres, proper fencing is necessary for keeping different animals away from one another or from escaping away.

Additionally, incorporate a three-sided shelter where your pet Alpaca/Llama can relax comfortably. If you live in a colder climate, a barn or other windproof housing will do the job. However, if you live in warmer climates, an enclosure with proper air circulation is a must. Also, ensure that your pet Alpaca/ Llama always has a dry spot to lie down and rest. 

Alpacas/ Llamas Temperature and Dietary Needs

Alpacas do their best in dry summers and do not like hot and humid weather. However, they can also survive in temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit as long as they have shelter from child wind. 

Whereas Llamas can tolerate year-round temperature fluctuations of 40o Fahrenheit to 50o Fahrenheit. Their physical make allows them to tolerate both hot and cold weather. During winters, a shelter will do the job of providing them protection. Whereas in summer, an aquatic feature like a small pond or creek will help them keep cool whenever required.

Alpacas/ Llamas Dietary Needs

Both Alpacas and Llamas are pseudo ruminants, which are a type of herbivorous. These animals eat large amounts of roughage, and a major part of their diet includes grass, hay, and foliage. During winters, some part of their diet should also include grains and pellets. 

In addition, llamas and Alpacas should have access to fresh, clean water throughout the day.

Alpacas/ Llamas Cleaning Needs

Generally, it is better to avoid grooming and bathing Alpacas/ Llamas. Any of these practices can ruin the lock structure of their fleece and damage the fiber. However, if it is extremely necessary and the animal is comfortable, you can wash your pet Alpaca or Llama with lukewarm water between 10 to 20 degrees Celcius. Avoid using pressure water and wash them as one does with a newborn baby. 

Besides that, to keep their enclosure clean, ensure to remove all the waste and feces material every 2 to 3 days. Also, change the hay for their sleeping and relaxation every week.

Common Health Problems with Alpacas/ Llamas

Both Alpacas and Llamas can suffer from a wide range of neurologic diseases. Some of the common health problems that hit them include polioencephalomalacia, encephalitis, listeriosis, meningeal worm, and equine herpesvirus.

Pros and Cons of owning a pet Alpaca/ Llama

  • Whomever you speak with, you will find a number of advantages though fewer disadvantages of owning an Alpaca/ Llama. For instance,
  • Both Alpacas and Llamas are known for fiber production. Their soft fleece comes in a variety of natural colors and is highly priced.
  • Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic.
  • Both Alpacas and Llamas are calm and relaxed, which makes them easy to train.
  • Tourism for observing Alpacas and Llamas on farms is growing rapidly all across America. The alpaca petting farm is quite popular amongst kids.
  • Both Alpacas and Llamas are great livestock guardians. 
  • Alpacas and llamas are interesting, affectionate, and bond well with humans and harmless animals.
  • Llamas’ feces are one of the finest fertilizers for flower beds.
  • Owning an Alpaca or Llama also grants individuals with tax benefits in different states.
  • However, the only downside of owning Alpacas and Llamas is that the caretakers need to be knowledgeable. You can’t just bring them home, just like any domestic cat or dog. It takes time and effort to learn about these animals, especially for their caregiving part. Also, even though their Veterinary needs are less, finding a Vet who can and is able to treat Alpacas and Llamas is a task. 

Fun Alpacas and Llamas facts for kids

  1. Llamas are mischievous, and they are known for spitting on humans for several reasons.
  2. Alpacas are quiet and gentle and, therefore, safe to have around kids.
  3. Both Alpacas and Llamas are the most well-known therapy animal.
  4. Both Alpacas and Llamas always poop at the same spot.
  5. Llamas’ poop has no smell at all.
  6. Alpacas (even neutered) can’t live alone and needs a companion.
  7. Alpacas do not have top-front teeth.
  8. Llamas, Don’t Bite at all.

How Much Does an Alpaca/ Llama Cost?

The purchasing cost of an Alpaca will fall anywhere between $500 to $600 (in case of adoption) and $250 to $20,000 (while buying from a breeder).

Whereas the purchasing cost of a Llama will fall anywhere between $300 to $5000. An untrained and untamed Llama is inexpensive and affordable. However, if you go by their height, size, bloodline, age, training, etc., their cost will increase.

Where To Buy an Alpaca/ Llama?

Where to find an Alpaca/ Llama Breeder? For buying an Alpaca or a Llama, you can search your nearby farms, ranches, or dealers. However, if you visit a pet store finding these animals, you might have to come back disappointed.

Here are some of the Alpaca/ Llama Breeder references:

Alpaca Atlantic of Tennessee, LLC
Lisa Olsen & Bill Fletcher
5378 Woodbury Hwy
Manchester, TN 37355
Phone: (931) 728- 6945
E-mail: AlapacaAtlantic@gmail.com

Alpacas of the Smokies
Keith & Jannette Cox
1824 Vickers Lane
Sevierville, TN 37876
Phone: (865) 604-8401
Ambriel Acres Alpacas, LLC 
Tara McCoy & Ron Nazzaro
595 Williams St.
Decherd, TN 37324
Phone: (800) 758-0823
Fax: (931) 968-1956
E-mail: Alpacas@ambrielacres.com
Appalachian Alpacas
Lara Durham
240 Ralph Rhea Lane
Limestone, TN 37680
Phone: (423) 257-3262
E-mail: laradurham_pta@yahoo.com
Mistletoe Alpaca
Leanne Butchko
4212 Crowder Road, Franklin, TN 37064Phone:(615) 202-4829 / (615) 202-1054
E-mail: info@mistletoeAlpacas.com
Two Roots Alpacas
Ruth Anne Goss
3875 St James Road
Greeneville, TN 37743
Phone: (256) 509-5096
E-mail:Ruthanne@tworootsAlpacas.com
Web: www.tworootsAlpacas.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Alpacas/Llamas be indoor pets?

Alpacas can make it indoor for a short period of time; however, Llamas need huge outdoor space to thrive. Keeping any indoors is an exception rather than a rule or comfort.

Which is a better pet to have around kids: Alpacas or Llamas?

Alpacas are naturally gentler and, therefore, safe to have around kids. Though even Llamas are kids friendly, they might spit or scare the poor little child at times.

Do Alpacas like to be petted?

Alpacas will tolerate it for some people, preferably their favorite human but generally, they do not like being petted.

Do Alpacas or Llamas bite?

No, Both Alpacas and Llamas are cattle, and they usually do not bite or harm others.

Wrapping up…

Can you have Alpacas/ Llamas as pets? Owning an Alpacas or Llamas is a rewarding experience. If you have space, resources, and time to commit, you can definitely own these animals. They make it easy to love them and will form a strong bond with their owners. Even with other cattle around, both Alpacas and Llamas perform great.

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