Wild Fact #410 – The Fighting Camel – Guanaco

Guanaco

Photo from Wikimedia

As Christmas approaches and you begin to stress about finishing up the shopping and baking, I want you to take 5 minutes to relax and learn about a camel-like species. That’s right, the Guanaco will help peel away the Christmas anxiety for a few minutes as we take a nice, long trip to South America. Hopefully you picked up a pair of hiking boots during your last trip to the mall since we the Guanaco is typically found grazing in the higher mountainous regions. It should be a nice hike though since I don’t’ think the Andes are that big of a mountain range :). Okay, let’s catch our breath and start climbing…

Pretty Little Camel

As I mentioned, the Guanaco is a camelid species that’s found throughout the Andes from Peru to Patagonia. These animals typically stand at a height of 1.22 m (4′) and weighs about 90 kg (200 lbs). Although they weigh 200 lbs, the Guanaco is actually a slender animal with a short tail, large head and a fairly long neck. As you can imagine, living in the dry mountains can get quite cool, which is why the Guanaco is armed with a warm coat. This coat is usually a light brown on top with a white underside and is often sought after by humans due to its softness and insulate properties.

Guanaco

Photo by Bernard Gagnon (Wikimedia)

All’s Fair In Love and War

The Guanaco can usually be found in groups consisting of 10 females, a dominant male and their young. Once the young males reach five years of age, they will go off and try to find their own herd. If the young male is unsuccessful in finding a family, they will join or form a bachelor group, which can consist of as many as 50 unattached males.  Talk about a night out with the guys! So how do these males determine dominance? Well, they are like other animals, they fight for dominance. The fighting Guanaco has quite a few tricks up their sleeves including biting their front legs, twisting their necks around each other and of course my personal favourite, spitting at each other. The loser of the fight will have to leave the herd, while the winner becomes the leader of their herd. It may sound like a tough life but it works for this camel-like species.

That does it for the Guanaco. I hope you enjoyed your trip to South America. Hopefully, you were able to recharge your batteries so you can go and finish your hectic Christmas shopping.

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