The guanaco is one of Patagonia’s most iconic animals. Guanacos have long legs, a brown pelt, an upper lip chapped in the middle and big eyes with long eyelashes. The guanaco is double coated with a coarse guard hair and soft undercoat. The guanaco’s soft wool is valued second only to that of the vicuña and comparable to the best cashmere. The head and the back are brown while the belly and the legs have a lighter color.
Guanacos can only be found in South America. 95% of the population is located in Argentina and there are also significant populations in Chile, while in Bolivia, Perú and Paraguay they are nearly extinct. They eat a great variety of vegetal species, mainly gramineae. Guanacos are gregarious animals, the live in herds with one dominant male, the females and their young. Their lifespan is 20 to 25 years.
The guanaco can run over 30 miles per hour which is important for their survival. They live in places with little vegetation where it is not easy to hide. The mountain lion (or puma) is their natural predator. Whenever they feel threatened they spit saliva or even the grass they might be chewing.
The mating season occurs during the Southern summer, between November and February. During this time the males fight violently to establish their breeding and dominance rights. The gestation period for females is eleven months. Guanaco females have one single baby at a time called chulengo.