Skip to main content

Photo: Who's Feet Are These?

strange animal feet, alpaca feet, weird animals, alpacas, animal photos, andes animals, alpaca information
What the? (Image credit: Jennifer Zoon, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Guess who? Though these weird tootsies may spark the imagination, these are not the feet of a mythical beast featured in the pages of a Harry Potter book.

The luxurious fur and claw-like toes belong to an animal that needs both for its high-mountain lifestyle: an alpaca.

Thick fur helps insulate the animals against the frigid temperatures typical in high altitudes, and the two toes, covered with thick, curving nails, help alpacas traverse the high South American mountains they call home.

Domesticated by the Inca people in the Andes Mountains more than 5,000 years ago, alpacas are prized for their soft yet remarkably strong fur, which the Incas used to make everything from clothing to rope to tapestries.

Although they're smaller, alpacas belong to the same family as camels and llamas. Large hearts and lungs supply the furry quadrupeds with plenty of oxygen, helping them thrive in mountainous regions. 

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.