Llamas vs Alpacas – The 5 Main Differences Explained

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: June 21, 2021


If you’ve ever seen an alpaca (Vicugna pacos) from a distance, you might have confused it with a llama (Llama glama), or vice versa. While these animals may share similarities in body shape, both have feet instead of hooves, and both are species of South American camelids, llamas and alpacas are actually two very different animals, with different temperaments, ear sizes, and scientific names.

Comparing Llama vs Alpaca

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of similarities between the alpaca and the llama. They both have feet with two toes and soft footpads rather than hooves, and each has a three-compartment stomach for digesting their diet of grasses. Both animals can spit up to 10 feet when annoyed or threatened. Still, the ways in which they differ are distinct. Some of the differences between these animals include:

LlamaAlpaca
SizeLargerSmaller
HabitatMountainous deserts and grasslandsTemperate high meadows
Lifespan10-15 years in the wild;
sometimes reaching 30 years of age in captivity
10-15 years in the wild
HeadLonger faces and earsBlunt noses and short, pointed ears.
TemperamentTend to be lonersHerd animals and somewhat more docile
Differences unique to the speciesMake good pack animalsHave hypoallergenic wool, use their tail to show their mood, much like a cat

The 5 Primary Differences Between Llamas and Alpacas

Head and face

An alpaca has a smaller, more blunt-nosed head than a llama. Llamas have longer noses and more prominent teeth.

Llama vs Alpaca: Ears

Llama ears are longer and more curved, and they stick up prominently from the middle of their heads. Alpacas have smaller, more pointy ears, which are also straighter.

Llama vs Alpaca: Wool

Both of these animals are used for wool, but alpaca wool tends to be more sought-after, as it is finer and softer than llama wool. It is also hypoallergenic since it contains no lanolin like sheep’s wool.

Llama vs Alpaca: Size (Height & Weight)

On average, llamas are about a foot taller than alpacas when measured at the shoulders. Llamas can reach weights of up to 400 lbs, or about twice that of a larger alpaca.

Llama vs Alpaca: Temperament

Llamas prefer to keep to themselves rather than herding, but they make good guard animals for alpaca herds, as they are quite protective of other animals. Of the two, llamas tend to be much more aggressive than alpaca, though both will defensively spit when crossed.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is a llama the same thing as an alpaca?

No. Although they are very similar, they are not the same animal. The scientific name for the llama is the llama glama, and the alpaca is the Vicugna pacos.

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

Llamas are larger and more solitary. Alpacas have better wool and like to stick together.

Are llamas or alpacas nicer?

Generally speaking, alpacas tend to have a gentler disposition, but either will spit when provoked or threatened.

Are llamas or alpacas more aggressive?

Llamas are often more aggressive because they are very protective of other animals.

Do alpacas and llamas have different feet?

Not really, no. Both llamas and alpacas have two-toed feet with soft pads on the bottom, rather than split hooves like goats or many ungulates.