Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Attribute Guanaco
Body Weight 175 -265 lbs (79-120 kg)
Body Length 5.1 – 6.6 ft (155 – 201 cm)
Shoulder Height 3.6 -3.8 ft  (110 – 116 cm)
Tail Length 9”-10”  (23 cm – 25 cm)

General Appearance


  • Largest wild mammal in South America (most quite small).
  • Lighter body and build than camel, but heavier than vicuna.
  • Size varies throughout range
    • Largest guanacos live in southern Patagonia.
    • Smallest live in Peru.
  • Backs are straight – no humps.
  • Unique feature: walk on pads not hoofs.


  • Heads have straight profile.
  • No horns or antlers.
  • Large eyes with thick lashes.
  • Ears are long and pointed.

Pelage and skin

  • Color varies with region
    • Light brown, brownish yellow, or brownish red on back and neck
    • White belly, rump and backs of legs
    • Head, ears, and nape of neck are gray
  • Very dense, wooly coat - thick guard hairs cover short, fine undercoat
  • Thick, tough skin

Sexual Dimorphism

  • Males somewhat larger than females

Other Characteristics

Soft foot pads under deeply cleft toes

  • Toenails rather than hooves.
  • Able to move securely on rocky trails and gravel slopes.


  • 15% larger than mammals of comparable size.

Blood adapted to high altitude

  • High hemoglobin concentration of blood: large numbers of small, thin erythrocytes

Page Citations

Fowler (1998)
Klingel (1990)
Gonzalez (2006)

SDZWA Library Links