Sunday Morning Fiber Photo: Guanaco

Guanaco are cousins of the llama and the alpaca, and are also native to South America. They are herding animals; the females--who tend to stay in small herds of around ten-- and their young form a herd with one dominant male, and bachelors will form separate herds of up to 50 or more. The dominant male in a female herd will run behind the herd when threatened to protect them. Also, they apparently make a high-pitched bleating sound as a warning, and may spit when threatened.

Guanaco colors range very little from a light brown to a dark cinnamon shade with lighter tones underneath on their bellies. Their fiber is soft and warm and found in many luxury fabrics. Like llamas, guanaco have "double protection" hair: a coarse outer layer and a softer undercoat. Their pelts are also used in place of red fox pelts because the texture is almost the same.

Unfortunately, in some areas of South America guanaco are fighting against livestock for grazing lands, however, their populations are still reasonably high due to their dwelling in uncivillized places as well. Still, some farmers are raising guanaco to help even out their numbers.

The only natural predator of the guanaco is the puma, or mountain lion.

Next week: Silk Worms

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