Guanaco

Lama guanicoe

The guanaco is one of the two wild Camelid species currently existing in South America, and is the wild ancestor from which two domestic forms appeared, the llama and the alpaca.

 

It is the most adaptable of its family, for it is found at sea level and up to an altitude of 4,000 meters, and it inhabits all kinds of environments: semidesertic fields, savannas, low-dense forests with bushes and, occasionally, even forests.

Natural habit

From northern Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, always in quiet and remote areas.

Guanaco Habitat
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Preocupació menor

Taxonomy

Class
Mammalia
Order
Artiodactyla
Family
Camelidae

Physical characteristics

90 - 140 kg
Birth Weight: 8 - 15 kg
190 - 215 cm
25 - 30 years

Biology

Habitat
Savannah
Social life
Gregarious
Feeding
Herbivorous

Reproduction

Gestation
345 - 360
Days
Baby
1

Discover how they are

Biology

Description

This agile camelid, with a longer coat than the vicuna but shorter than llamas and alpacas, has a brown and reddish color, with white inner parts and dark face.

Habitat

It is the most adaptable camelid, for it is found at sea level and up to an altitude of 5,000 meters, and it inhabits semidesertic fields, savannas, fields of bushes and, occasionally, even forests.

Feeding

It is an herbivore and it eats all kinds of plants, tubers, moss, seeds and tender leaves. Guanacos are known for its ability to spit at great distance, saliva or food balls it had been chewing.

Reproduction

Its oestrus takes place between November and February. During this period, males become very aggressive and fight each other for females. After a gestation of 345-360 days, a single calf is born, rarely two, and it can follow its mother after 15-20 minutes of being born.

Conduct

It is a social animal with territorial habits. Herds of females and calves are led by an adult male. The other males sometimes form groups and, when the mating period arrives, they fight against the dominant ones in order to occupy a privileged position among females. When it feels in danger, it can run more than 60 Km/h, an important characteristic for its survival in an open habitat without hiding places. Its most important natural predator is the puma.

Status and conservation programs

Competition with domestic animals for food, as well as excessive hunting for its wool and skin, have caused the population of guanacos to decrease considerably during the last years in many areas. While in Argentina and Chile, populations are recovering, in Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia it is currently a critically endangered species.