Alpacas are native to the puna or altiplano of South America.
This is an area of high altitude, generally over 12,000 feet.
However, as they are also near to the equator they experience
less seasonal variation in temperature than you would expect.
As a result, alpacas have not evolved to cope with extreme cold
or extreme heat. They appear to tolerate cold better than heat
and the combination of heat and humidity is the toughest combination.
The solution is to provide fresh clean water at all times and
plenty of shade. Just like humans, alpacas carrying too much
weight feel the effects of heat more than those at the correct
weight. Shearing before the hot season helps and avoiding transporting
animals during the heat of the day is a wise precaution. Extreme
cold can put newborn cria at risk so most births are timed to
occur in the warmer months. Cria born in winter will need to
be kept indoors and warm for the first few days. They may also
need to wear a thermal coat when in the paddock.
Having said all of the above, alpacas are raised successfully
throughout the USA and Canada. This is a testament to just how
hardy and remarkably adaptable these animals are.