Alpaca are members of the Camelid family, meaning they are related to vicuna, guanaco, llamas, and---well, yes---camels!
There are two breeds of alpaca, both domesticated and native to South America: the far more common Huacya ("wah-KI'-ya") with fluffy hair, and the Suri ("surrey") with long, wavy hair.
Alpaca weigh between 100-200 pounds, with an average height of 4-6 feet. They are much more petite than llamas, which weigh 300-450 pounds and are 5.5-6 feet tall.
Although they don't love to be petted, alpaca are gentle, curious animals and are quite friendly to those they trust.
Alpaca wool is extremely soft, lush, and dense with fine fibers. Their fleece keeps them warm in the winter months and is shorn in spring to help them keep cool in the warmer months.
Alpaca chew their cud, but they are not ruminants. They have one stomach with three compartments (instead of four), allowing them to absorb as many nutrients as possible from the grass and hay that they eat.
Alpaca are herd animals through and through. They find safety in numbers and comfort in the social structure of the herd.
Alpaca are generally quiet but can be quite vocal when they need to be! They communicate with a range of sounds, from soft humming and clucking to snorting, grumbling, screeching, and screaming!
A female alpaca gestates for 11 months to give birth to one baby. When loved and cared for, they can live 15-20 years, with the oldest on record being 27 years old!
And now, the question you've all been waiting for: Do alpaca spit? Well, yes--but mostly, no. Alpaca mostly spit at each other when they are nervous or feel threatened, but they also spit to establish dominance or compete for food. Their spit can travel up to 10 feet! (WOW!)