Alpacas can live for up to 15-20 years, which is a similar lifespan to other camelids. Male alpacas mature at about 3 years old, and females at about 15-20 months with a maximum breeding age of 15 years. The record for the longest an alpaca has ever lived in 28 years.
While alpacas can generally live for up to 15-20 years, regardless if they live in Peru, Chile, the USA, Australia, or any other country, there are a variety of factors that can influence an alpaca’s lifespan, including its health, habitat, gender, size, and diet.
We’ll take a closer look at these factors in a minute, but first let’s find out whether domesticated, wild, or pet alpacas live the longest.
Lifespan of Wild Alpacas
Asking how long alpacas live in the wild is actually a trick question because there are no longer any alpacas that live in the wild.
About 6,000 years, alpacas were domesticated from the vicuña, which is one of only two wild South American camelids (the other is the guanaco), which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes. Vicuñas actually have the same life expectancy as alpacas at 15-20 years.
Lifespan of Domesticated Alpacas
Alpacas can live for up to 15-20 years as long as they are cared for correctly.
There are two breeds of alpaca: Huacaya and Suri. Huacayas are the far more common breed, accounting for over 90% of all alpacas worldwide. Suris are in the minority but are often preferred for their smooth, silky, high luster fibers. There is no difference in the natural average life expectancy between the two.
Lifespan of Pet Alpacas
Due to their naturally curious, docile and friendly nature, alpacas can make great pets. As anyone who owns an alpaca as a pet will attest, the animal is very much loved and well cared for, just like it is part of the family.
So while a pet alpaca still has a natural maximum lifespan of 15-20 years, it is more likely to reach old age and not suffer from diseases and poor health that can afflict alpacas used for other purposes.
4 Factors That Affect An Alpaca’s Lifespan
Diseases & Conditions
Just like any other animal, alpacas are vulnerable to disease and health conditions. Not all of these diseases and conditions may cause death, but they can affect health and cause an alpaca to die younger.
Alpacas can suffer from bacterial diseases, endoparasites, ectoparasites, fungal infections, metabolic and deficiency diseases, protozoal diseases, toxicities, and viral diseases.
As alpacas are domesticated animals, most live on farms or ranches where they are given the necessary space to survive and thrive. But this doesn’t mean that all alpaca farms and ranches are made equal.
Some poorly cared for farms and ranches, especially those that don’t meet the minimum necessary alpacas per acre requirements, may be breeding grounds for diseases and other conditions, or the necessary precautions to prevent predator attacks from occurring might not also have been taken. These can all affect how many years an alpaca can live.
Size & Gender
As far as gender is concerned, there is no difference between how long a male and female alpaca can naturally live. The only reason why there might be a difference is down to female alpacas not being able to defend themselves from predators as well as male alpacas.
The same can be said of smaller alpacas, though a fully mature alpaca that is on the small side could indicate underlying health issues that can affect life expectancy.
There are a few diet-related issues that can affect how many years alpacas can live, including malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, poisonous plants, and weight loss.
As long as alpacas get all the water, energy, vitamins, and minerals they need, and care has been taken so as not to expose them to poisonous plants, alpacas will be healthy into old age.
Can Alpacas Die From Loneliness?
Alpacas are herd animals, so they like to be together with at least another companion or two. If left alone, alpacas will become sad and stressed.
While a lack of socialization is enough to cause health complications, the main reason that alpacas should be kept together is because they usually take turns when sleeping to guard against predators. An alpaca by itself will therefore suffer from stress caused by sleep deprivation, which can then result in death.
Alpacas should therefore at the very least always be purchased in pairs, though it is recommended to buy three at a minimum. If someone wants to buy and keep an alpaca as a pet, this can be a limiting factor.