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It's not a llama?

Chances are, if you walk into Target and see a shirt with a fluffy four-legged creature on it that looks like an alpaca, it’s probably a llama. Despite popular opinion, alpacas and llamas are not the same. Spoiler alert: They are both Camelids – otherwise known as the larger-than-a-goat and smaller-than-a-horse family.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get as alpaca farmers are the differences between these two seemingly similar animals. So we set out to clear up some of the confusion with the top six differences between alpacas and llamas.

1. Size

Since llamas functioned as an alpaca’s guard animal, it makes sense they would be roughly twice the size of alpacas. While llamas weigh between 250 and 350 pounds and are much taller, alpacas weigh only between 100 and 175 pounds and stand a little lower to the ground.

2. Ears

The easiest way to spot the difference between an alpaca and a llama in a field or on a coffee mug is the ears. Alpacas have shorter spear-shaped ears and llamas have long banana-shaped ears.

3. Fluff

Let’s face it: Alpacas are fluffier than llamas are. While llamas have a thicker coat – a course outer coat over a softer inner coat – there is a much smaller fiber per fluff ratio. The alpaca has a single, fine layer of fiber which produces the soft fluff we all know and love. (Look out for more on this topic in upcoming blogs!)

4. Spitting

Our alpacas could be your next best friend. Llamas are known for spitting, but alpacas rarely spit, bite or kick. They have an easygoing personality and most people agree that an alpaca will only spit on you if you’re a bad person. Who doesn’t love a good test of character?

5. Face

Alpacas look like little teddy bears. Their faces are shorter and covered in ringlets of hair, giving them an adorable smushed-face look. Llamas generally have longer, leaner faces with less hair coverage.

6. F.O.M.O.

Humans are not the only ones to experience fear of missing out. ‘Pacas need ‘pacas too. Instinctively herd animals, alpacas only thrive and feel safe with their group of buddies. Llamas are the independent ones of the family and feel confident protecting and defending without a herd mate.

We hope these differences will save you the heartbreak of buying llama pajama pants from Old Navy when you were really looking for alpaca ones. (Trust us, it’s happened).

And if you still visit Mistletoe Farm Alpacas thinking it’s a llama farm, have no fear. We have plenty of live examples.


Leanne and Tom Butchko are a couple of accountants who dreamed a little and started a close-knit family farm featured on Tennessee Crossroads. Today, they are not only tax-filers but a husband and wife who breed, love and enjoy alpacas. They invite you to spend time with their herd and get to know these adorable animals. Plan your visit to Mistletoe Farm by booking an appointment here!


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