What is it?

Certainly not native to Vancouver Island, these animals live just down the street from me on the island. As I drove past one day, I did a double take, thinking at first I was seeing grizzlies (also not native here) on the hillside. I apologize for the poor quality, as these were taken some years ago.

It turned out that they are … er … what? People in the neighbourhood have called them llamas (Spanish pronounciation – yamas), but they look more like alpacas to me. These two animal types are so closely related that I can’t tell one from the other. Alpacas are supposed to be smaller than llamas, but without one of each standing side by side, it is hard to make a comparison.

Llamas are said to have longer ears that point forward. These ears look quite small to me, but who knows?

I have read that alpacas (and, presumably, llamas) have bad reactions to many of the plants that are commonly found in our area, bracken fern, fireweed, and azaleas to name a few. The ones in these photos are unlikely to find much of anything that will disagree with them, as the pickings are pretty sparse on this rocky hillside.

If you’re ever not sure how to spell the name of these animals – lamas or llamas – think of the little poem by Ogden Nash:

The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.

But I still don’t know how to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca.

I yama gonna have to go sit on a rocky hillside and think about that. It could take me a while to figure out, so I think alpaca lunch.

51 thoughts on “What is it?

      1. Ernie

        Well this is timely. I just stumbled onto your blog after reading your comment on another blog. We are headed to Vancouver in early July from Chicago. My youngest is competing at National Championships of Irish Dancing on July 3rd. We switched gears and decided to take the whole gang there for vacation- which meant cancelling our Yellowstone reservations. We would love to see wildlife. Was not expecting Alpacas. They are cute.

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      *smiling* Thank you, Belinda. The alpacas belonged to people who live just beyond where I saw them. They have a large area fenced off, but the fencing wasn’t obvious to me when I first saw the creatures.

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  1. Ursula

    There are 3 kinds of llamas: Alpaca, Vicuna and Guanaco. yours are definitively Alpacas. The Alpacas are the kind which people keep around here. Seems that they like our climate. I am sure their wool is as good as from the sheep. I heard that they are good for eating as well.

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      That’s an interesting way of putting them in order. I know that researchers are still trying to figure out who is related to whom, but in the end, I think they probably all share some DNA. So there are four animals who have very similar traits: the guanaco and llama, and the vicuna and alpaca. Good to hear that there are alpacas over in Europe too. I hadn’t thought about that being a possibility.

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