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Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru. The smallest member of the camel family, the vicuna is closely related to the llama and the alpaca. The vicuna has a small head in comparison with its body, and its eyes and ears are small and prominent. Its neck is long. An average vicuna measures 4 to 6 feet 1. It stands 30 to 40 inches 76 to centimeters tall at its shoulder. It feeds primarily on grasses, mosses, and other vegetation.
Pumas and Andean foxes are its main predators. Vicuna are social animals. They form family groups consisting of a dominant male and a number of adult females with their young. The male defends a feeding and sleeping territory averaging 17 to 74 acres 7 to 30 hectares. Those males unable to defend a territory and thus breed with females live a solitary life or join other males to form bachelor groups. Male and female vicuna mate in March or April. A female gives birth to one infant after a gestation pregnancy period of to days.
The young vicuna nurses for up to ten months and becomes independent after about a year. Vicunas are highly communicative, signaling one another with body postures, ear and tail placement, and numerous other small movements.
Their vocalizations include an alarm call—a high pitched whinny—that alerts the herd to danger. They also emit a soft humming sound to signal bonding or greeting and a range of guttural sounds that communicate anger and fear. This male-only, melodic mating sound attracts females. The vicuna is known for its wool—often said to be among the finest in the world. One thing that makes the wool of the vicuna so popular is its warmth. Vicuna wool is softer, lighter and warmer than any other wool.
The vicuna will only produce about one pound of wool in a year as opposed to the alpaca, which can produce fifteen pounds in a similar time period. This, of course, adds to the rarity of the wool. Biologists people who study living organisms estimate the current population to be over , The vicuna prefers to inhabit semiarid semidry grasslands and plateaus at elevations of 9, to 15, feet 3, to 4, meters.