fbpx

Vicuña

Vicugna vicugna

Class: Mammalia Order: Artiodactyla Family: Camelidae

Size

Weight: 99-120 lbs

Lifespan

20 years

Diet

Tough, short grasses

Habitat & Range

Andes Mountains in South America

Interesting Facts

  • Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camel family. They are a relative of the llama, and are believed to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca.
  • Vicuñas feed on tough, short grasses that grow in their dry grassland habitats. Their lower incisors grow constantly like a rodent’s. They are the only ungulate (hoofed animal) with continuously growing teeth.
  • The Incas highly valued vicuñas for their wool. They are also the national animal of Peru, and they are featured on the Peruvian coat of arms.
  • Vicuñas live in high altitude grasslands and plains which tend to be hot and dry during the day, and freezing at night. They have fleece to protect them in such a harsh habitat.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Vicuñas are listed as Least Concern by IUCN. However, they are listed as threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. They are also included on Appendices I and II of CITES

Threats

Vicuñas were once heavily hunted for their wool and meat, and as a result they came close to extinction in the 1960s. Their numbers in the wild have recovered due to strict laws and regulations, however their populations are managed through conservation programs.