The Alpine biome is a relatively inhospitable biome with its high altitude, low oxygen content, low precipitation levels, and low temperatures ranging from 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4-15.5 degrees Celsius) in the summer and below freezing in the winter. Therefore, alpine animals have adaptations that help them live in these conditions including layers of fat and fur, larger lungs, and shorter tails, legs, and ears. These adaptations help alpine animals, such as Elk, Sheep, and Alpacas, stay warm and thrive in this difficult climate. The fur, fat, and shorter appendages help the animals to stay insulated and lose less heat, while the larger lungs help them breathe with the thinner atmosphere at the high altitude. Some animals also migrate or hibernate during the winter months.
Llamas are domesticated herbivorous members of the camel family (camelids) characterized by their coats of thick wool and their upright posture. An iconic traditional South American animal, llamas have long been kept as useful beasts of burden that serve human needs for transportation of goods as well as for the production of wool and meat. Llamas live collectively with others in herds and are often used as guardians for other livestock because of their keen awareness and intelligence. Often confused with the alpaca, llamas are noticeably larger than alpacas and produce less wool.
Uses: Wool, pack (transport), meat (Peru), guards
Scientific Name: Lama glama
Llamas side elevation (standing), side (Napoleon Dynamite), front, side (laying down)
Sheep are stocky ruminant mammals of the Ovis genus. Sheep are known for their undercoats of fine wool which has led to them being domesticated for their fleeces. Sheep are seen as fundamental farming animals throughout the world and have a core livestock for many civilizations. A male sheep is referred to as a ram while a female is known as an ewe.
The Guanaco, like the Vicuña, is a wild camelid that lives in the high elevations of the Andes. The Guanaco is the wild parent to the Llama, a the result of domesticating the Guanaco for use as pack animal, and the Alpaca, who is the result of domesticating the Guanaco for its coat. The Guanaco is an extremely speedy runner, capable of reaching speeds upwards of 40 miles per hour, and a talented swimmer. The Guanaco is a herd animal and has developed different ways of communicating which include, ear movements, vocalizations, spitting, and marking territory with dung.
Scientific Name: Lama guanicoe
Guanaco side elevation (standing), side (person), front, back, walking
Goats are horned mammals belonging to the Capra genus and are often used for farming purposes. Domestic goats are primarily kept for milk production, but have also been used for meat, fur, and skins across much of the world. Goats are one of the oldest animal species domesticated by man.
The Vicuña is one of the two wild South American camelids that live in the high alpine areas of the Andes, with the other species being the Guanaco. The Vicuña is highly prized for its fine coat, which can only be shone every three years. The fine fibers of their coat have been desired since Incan times, when garments made from Vicuña wool were reserved for royalty only. The Vicuña is the national animal of Peru and is protected by conservationists after a brief stint on the endangered animals list in 1974. Despite being previously considered distinct from the Alpaca and the Llama, recent DNA research has revealed potential wild Vicuña parentage in domesticated Alpaca.
Scientific Name: Vicugna vicugna
Vicuña side elevation (standing), side (person), front, eating, back
The Alpaca, a member of the camelid family from South America, is a domesticated relative of the Guanaco and the Vicuña who is bred for its luxurious, soft coat. The Alpaca is frequently confused with the llama, but while both domesticated South American camelids, they are two distinct species; the Alpaca being the smaller of the two, and the Llama being larger and used as a pack animal. There two types of Alpacas, the more common Huacayas, identifiable by their fluffy, teddy-bear like appearance, and the Suris, identifiable by their silky fleece that grows in locks. Alpaca fibers can come in as many as 52 natural colors from Peru, but only 12 and 16 are from Australia and the United States, respectively.
Scientific Name: Vicugna pacos
Alpaca side elevation (standing), side (person), front, walking, lying down