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I fell in love with the llama at first glance that my friend bought only to find out that it was an alpaca. It is quite common to mistake alpacas and llamas for each other because of the uncanny resemblance. It took me a good three or four days to figure out it was not llama but alpaca instead.
Many Camelids resembling llamas confuse people with their appearance, interestingly, they belong to the same family also. Seeing different llama look-alike animals made me want to know more about this cud-chewing, spitting llama types, and their close relatives.
One of the reasons for knowing everything about llamas was not to embarrass me in a gathering. I am friends with a lot of llama farming lovers, so it would be a shame not to know anything about them.
I began my search by knowing the difference between llamas and alpacas, the classic llamas vs alpacas debate. Moved ahead with increasing my knowledge about the characteristics, coat color, behavior, types, and fun facts. Went to different barns to study the animal, it was quite helpful.
After I got the necessary answers and was about to put a full stop to the research. A thought crossed my mind about enlightening readers with all the details. Here is a treat from me to you.
Types of Llamas
Llamas belong to the camel family though they lack hump. Other members of the said family include alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna. Most people are familiar with alpacas and llamas and often end up mixing them up for each other.
Llamas have a prestigious 40 million years of history, some highs and lows, and a brush with extinction. Originated in the central plains of North America, Llamas are now found in the mountainous terrains of the Americas, Europe, and Australia.
People want to know about the varieties of llamas, a little heads up, they are equally adorable. Each type got a distinctive trait, coloring, and fleece quality. Here are 5 main types of llamas along with the details.
- Classic Llamas (Ccara Sullo)
- Medium Llamas
- Suri Llamas
- Vicuna Llamas
- Wooly Llamas
1. Classic Llamas (Ccara Sullo)
Classic llamas are known for their distinctly long double-coated fleece, fine undercoat, and good looks. Even the term classic in their name is a reference to their beautiful coat. Being taller and larger than other llama varieties, Ccara Sullo is a large-framed, long-legged animal that has abundant guard hair over the entire body.
Llamas are hardy, strong, and adaptable. Even though they are usually found living in mountain terrains, does not mean they would not survive in an urban farm setting. They have known to endure different weather conditions and temperatures.
Traditional Llamas can withstand cold northern winters as their wool keeps them warm. If well cared for, Classic Llamas would not mind living in hot and humid temperatures. Just keep them cool using different techniques or shear them beforehand to cope with the hot weather.
Classic Llamas are large-bodied animals with double-coated fleece featuring long hair giving them a saddle-like appearance. If you wish to distinguish Ccara Sullo from other llama varieties, inspect the ears as they are a giveaway. Ears of Classic Llamas have rounded tips instead of the usual spear shape. Classic llamas hooves are sharp apart from other types.
The wool of this llama variety is its prized possession. When the double-coated fleece and the undercoat are combed out, it is less dense, even sparse.
Classic Llamas have lesser fiber in their heads, necks, and legs, less dense in these areas than the coat. The hair curtain noticeably starts thinning around the neck. These giant llamas are used for riding in some regions.
2. Medium Llamas
Next on the list is Medium Llama. As the name suggests, it is a medium woolen llama with cool looks and demeanor. This is one of the beautiful llama types with body structures smaller in size than the previously discussed variety. Not a lot of people know about this type, it can be possible that you may have been hearing about it for the first time. Well, better late than never, this llama type is worth knowing.
If treated with care, Medium Llama can survive in other habitats as well apart from the natural one.
Llamas generally call mountain terrains their home but it, by no means, suggests that they can not live elsewhere.
Llamas are no stranger to colder temperatures, harsh winter as the wool helps them stay warm and cope with the cold temperature. It is advised not to shear for llamas living in colder temperatures, if sheared, you would have to go an extra mile to keep them warm. Medium Llamas can stay in hot and humid weather as well, provided that they are sheared.
They look like a combination of wooly llamas and traditional llamas and look a bit like both of them. Most llamas are produced between the crossing of wooly, classic, or common llamas.
It can be difficult even for the experts to sometimes tell the difference between the medium llama and the wooly llama. However, some differences set them apart.
Each llama variety has different types of fleece. Features long fibers on the body and neck region but shorter fiber on the head, legs, and ears.
Medium llamas have double-layered fleece, making them among the best wool-producing types with the long, rough guard hair extends to the undercoat.
3. Suri Llamas
You may have heard about the famous Suri Alpacas but hearing about Suri Llamas seems unlikely. It is because of this type’s rarity that most people do not know about it at all.
The name ‘Suri’ (pronounced Surrey) refers to a special type of fiber that this llama variety produces. That’s the reason, they were awarded this name, ‘Suri’. Fiber has to hang a certain way to be classified as Suri.
It has been my pleasure to introduce you to this rare llama type that is at risk for extinction. If initiatives are not taken time to preserve Suri llamas, we may lose the breed forever to carelessness.
It may come as a surprise to you that a llama type, now on the verge of an extension was once counted among the popular ones. With diverse Suri bloodlines and successful show ring history, this llama variety is a winner throughout its long history.
Inhabitants of the mountain terrain, now are found in different continents of the world in small numbers. According to their population data, They are usually found in North America, South America, and some parts of Europe. They can survive both hot and cold weather if properly cared for.
The number is quite shocking, no more than a hundred Suri Llamas are available in Europe. Many breeders who have vowed to save the breed have moved them to different farms in many urban, rural, and countryside areas.
Despite the efforts, there is no significant increase in the population. One of the reasons for no improvement seen till now maybe because they are difficult to breed. Owing to the small genetics pool which is not readily available to the experienced breeders also has resulted in no significant change.
Most people believe that the Suri llamas were developed after the crossing of llamas and alpacas and got the best of both worlds. However, this is based on only people’s words and no scientific evidence.
Suri llama is single-coated and lacks coarse guard hair like the old-fashioned ‘Classic’ pack llama animals. They have straighter noses and long hair parting down the legs.
‘Suri’ refers to well-defined ‘locks’ from the skin to the end of the lock. Commonly, these ‘locks’ look like a twisted or corkscrew pencil lock. Some of these types of locks twist just on the very ends of the lock.
Their fleece keeps growing, need shearing every one year or two. The fleece of Suri llamas is known for its extreme slickness, shine, and curly locks. (Source)
4. Vicuna Llama
You would be surprised to learn that Vicuna Llama is famed for producing a rare wool type- even rare than the cashmere. Indigenous to the Andes Mountains of South America, vicuna wool is the softest material on the planet that is turned into expensive sweaters and overcoats.
The reason for its wool being so expensive is that it takes 30 llamas to make just one coat. They have beautiful orange coats with white patches. One fun fact about them is that they are wild and will not accept the life of captivity at any cost. They have to be released to their natural habitat after being shorn.
Vicuna Llama values their home, mountains. They would not trade it for any other place at any cost. Vicuna has known to starve themselves if captured and do not eat anything till they are released. Vicuna llamas have the ability to swim in soft water flow.
Unlike the above-mentioned types, it is not possible to keep them on a farm or any other setting less than the wild. They would not buy good behavior or treats to trade their natural habitat.
That’s the reason, the farmer only takes them to the farm when Vicuna needs to be sheared. They are released the moment shearing is done because the farmers know if they kept them any longer, they would likely go on a hunger strike.
Vicuna is a beautiful animal with a tawny brown coat and propositional body structure. Feature a beautifully colored wooly coat with long hair. The hair on the neck and throat region is white in color.
Need I have to say more about the vicuna’s wool, being one of the most expensive wool in the world is pretty self-explanatory. Popular due to its warmth, Vicuna is shorn every once in three years. On average, only 0.5 kg wool is produced per year by a single Vicuna.
5. Wooly Llamas
Just because it grabbed the last spot on our list does not, in any way, mean that it is any less than other llama types. This breed is smaller than other varieties of llamas and, in my opinion, the most adorable one.
Cutesy looks will make you want to raise one instantly, this popular llama type is well-known for its wool. Wooly llamas have different types of wool, from light, medium to heavy. It produces fine quality wool in sufficient quantity.
Likely, you would not be able to find many details online about this type of llama, having poor online representation does not mean it is not popular. Breeders know the true value of this variety and always on the lookout for finding them for breeding purposes.
Just like other llama types, they are inhabitants of the mountain terrain. However, if the need be, they can be raised and kept on a farm. Llamas generally have a natural tendency to survive cold weather.
Wooly Llamas are well-adapted to survive in both cold and hot weather. However, necessary precautions should be taken when the weather gets too hot or cold.
Wooly Llamas have a smaller build than other llamas. Their body is covered with fleece, making them look even cuter.
Wooly llamas are single-layered with strong wool covering. Unlike Classic Llamas, they lack an undercoat. Fiber is thick and kinky with more wool covering the head, ear, and neck. Fiber quality resembles that of ordinary alpaca, mixed with a less dense and minimum number of guard hair.
Interesting Facts About Llamas
Here is a parting gift for you. Some interesting facts about the Llamas.
- Llamas are smart, docile, and easy to train, they communicate to their owners via humming.
- Llamas let out their anger and let you know that they agitated by spiting on the owner and fellow herd members.
- They are not cheap, want to know about the cost of llamas? Read my guide on How Much Does a Llama Cost?
- Baby llamas go by the name, cria (Spanish: Baby).
- Llama’s poop is odorless and used for manufacturing great, eco-friendly fertilizer.
- Llamas are the most intelligent and alert protectors when called upon for guard duties. They are smart enough to tell a difference between a neighbor’s dog and a predator coyote. In some countries, people eat llamas meat as a food.
Putting it all together, llamas are beautiful animals prized for their wool, milk, and meat. All these above-mentioned llama types have been raised for producing wool for centuries now. Hope you had fun learning about the Llamas Type.
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