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
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.