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Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Fact Sheet: Summary

Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Fact Sheet

a Guanaco
Guanaco (Lama guanicoe)
Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Mueller, 1776

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Camelidae

Genus: Lama

Species: Lama guanicoe

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: 9-12 in (23-30 cm)

Pelage: Dense, wooly coat

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru

Habitat: Grassland, scrub, tree-studded savannas

IUCN Status: Least Concern (2016 assessment)

CITES Appendix: Appendix II

Population in Wild: between 1,500,000-2,200,000, with the estimated number of adults between 1,000,000-1,500,000

Locomotion: Run at 40 mph (64 km/hr); strong swimmers

Activity Cycle: Diurnal

Social Groups: Territorial male with family group; solo territorial males; immature male groups; bands of adult females with young

Diet: Opportunistic feeder; being both a grazer and a browser, eats grass, herbs, and leaves

Predators: Pumas (Puma concolor) and culpeos (Lycalopex culpaeus) on the young

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Females 2 yrs.; Males 3 yrs.

Gestation: 11.5 months

Litter Size: Single offspring

Birth weight: 7-15 kg (15-33 lb)

Age at Weaning: 7 months but will resume nursing again when next offspring is born, up until about 13 months.

Feature Facts:

  • The camelid family evolved in North America for some 40 million years before migrating to Asia and South America; guanacos and vicuñas are their wild descendants.
  • Selective breeding of guanicos resulted in the llama. Llamas don't live in the wild.
  • Found from Atacama desert to Tierra del Fuego rain forests. Ninety percent live in Argentina.
  • Mothers use aggressive behavior towards predators.
  • They are "functional ruminants", with regurgitation and rechewing, then reswallowing part of the digestive process.
  • Gestation is 11.5 months and young stay with mother for 1 year.
  • The San Diego Zoo received the first breeding pair in 1968. Today, the guanacos live with capybaras and tapirs in Elephant Odyssey.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2009-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Update 2019.

How to cite: Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Fact Sheet. c2009-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. guanaco.
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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