The alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance. There are two breeds of alpaca, the Suri and Huacaya alpaca. Originally thought to be related to llamas, a DNA test in 2001 determined they were more closely connected to the vicuna.
Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes mountains of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile.
Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas were not bred to be beasts of burdens, but rather for their fiber. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool.
Alpacas make a variety of sounds. When they are in danger, they make a high-pitched, shrieking whine. Some breeds are known to make a “wark” noise when excited. Strange dogs – and even cats – can trigger this reaction. To signal friendly or submissive behavior, alpacas “cluck,” or “click” a sound possibly generated by suction on the soft palate, or possibly in the nasal cavity.
Individuals vary, but most alpacas generally make a humming sound. Hums are often comfort noises, letting the other alpacas know they are present and content. The humming can take on many inflections and meanings.
When males fight, they scream a warbling, bird-like cry, presumably intended to terrify the opponent.