Suris and Huacayas

huacaya alpaca

A huacaya alpaca

There are two types of alpaca: the huacaya (pronounced whack-eye-uh) and the suri. The Huacaya, totaling perhaps 90 – 95 % of the existing world population produces a fleece that has a crimp or wavy quality. Huacayas are often described as looking like a teddy bear and you can see why!

The elegant suri produces a more lustrous fine fiber that has no crimp, which grows parallel to the body in long, shimmering locks. Suris are often described as less hardy and more sensitive than huacayas and spooked more easily.

Suri alpacas

Silky suri alpacas

I have yet to find out how true this is (I will let you know!), however, one interesting theory for the spooking could be that some owners let their suris’ “fringes” grow very long and, like Old English Sheepdogs, they can’t see out. Things frighten them because they are seeing them through a veil of hair. Solution: cut the fringe or tie it back. It makes sense to me!

The difference between the two types is visually very apparent, but physiologically they are identical in almost every respect.

photo credit: Vincent Ma via photopin cc