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Class: Animals with Milk Glands (Mammalia)
Subclass: True Mammals (Eutheria)
Order: Even-toed Mammals (Artiodactyla)
Family: Camelidae.

The Name "Guanaco": "Guanaco" comes from the word "huanaco," a word in Quechua - a South American Indian langauge.

Location: South America from the northern Andes to the southern tip of the continent.

Habitat: Terrestrial. Arid, usually mountainous areas.

Description: Except for the head and the legs, the body is covered with long, soft, hair. Closely related to the camel, the guanaco is reddish-brown on the back, and paler, almost white, on the underside. Its tail is about ten inches long. The neck is long and slender, the head is long ending in a somewhat drooping upper lip which is cleft in the middle. The ears are long, upright and mobile. The sole of the foot is divided into two by a deep cleft,and the feet are long and narrow for walking in the Andes Mountains. These animals reach about seven feet long, three to four feet high at the shoulders. They weigh only about 160 pounds.

Behavior: The guanaco lives in small herds made up of a male, several females, and young of various ages. If danger is imminent the male warns the group with a sort of bleating noise, and all the members immediately flee, with the male bringing up the rear. It has an ambling gait, created by moving both legs on the same side of the body at the same time.

Reproduction: During the courtship period, males become aggressive and fight violently. The mating season occurs November through February, and after an eleven-month gestation period the female delivers a single calf, which is born completely covered with hair and with its eyes fully open. It becomes independent at several months.

Note: We are more familiar with the other name used for this animal: the llama. However, the llama is a domesticated guanaco. The alpaca is another domesticated guanaco bred specifically for its wool, and it is thus much hairier than its llama kin.

Go to the Artiodactyla Page to learn more about all the even-toed hoofed animals.

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