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Animal Species

Llamas (Lama Glama)

The llama is most commonly found in the Andes mountain region of South America. These sturdy creatures are domestic animals used by the native peoples of the Andes Mountains. For centuries Llamas have been willing pack animals but only to a point. An overloaded llama will simply refuse to move. These animals often lie down on the ground and they may spit, hiss, or even kick at their owners until their burden is lessened. Typically, they are saddled with loads of 50 to 75 pounds. Under such weight they can cover up to 20 miles in a single day. Pack trains of llamas, which can include several hundred animals, move large amounts of goods over even the very rough terrain of the Andes. The llama is thought to have evolved from the old world camel-like animals that inhabited the regions that is today the Middle East. Although the llama has many similarities to the camel, the most noticeable difference between the llama and the camel is that the llama does not have a hump on its back.

Llamas which are well-socialized and trained to halter and lead after weaning are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. The llama is also believed to be a particularly intelligent animal as llamas are commonly taught tasks which the llama picks up with only a few repetitions of the task. Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd. A llama's social rank in a herd is never static. They can always move up or down in the social ladder by picking small fights. This is usually done between males to see which will become dominant. Their fights are visually dramatic, with spitting, ramming each other with their chests, neck wrestling and kicking, mainly to knock the other off balance. Llamas contribute much more than transportation to the human communities in which they live. Leather is made from their hides, and their wool is crafted into ropes, rugs, and fabrics. Llama excrement is dried and burned for fuel. Even in death, llamas can serve their human owners - some people slaughter them and eat their meat.

The llama is a herbivore and gets most of its nutrition from grass, leaves and young shoots. Grass is a big part of a free-roaming llama's dietary intake. Llamas graze on grass and, like cows, regurgitate their food and chew it as cud. They chomp on such wads for some time before swallowing them for complete digestion. Out in the wild, llamas also frequently feed on forbs, lichens, tree foliage, native shrubs, and young and tender shoots. These attributes make them durable and dependable even in sparse mountainous terrain. Llamas generally live in captive settings, such as farms and zoos. In these types of environments, these camelids usually are fed grains, herbivore pellets and grass hay. Fiber is a very important element of the llama diet. Llamas also enjoy occasional treats. Some typical llama treats are fresh vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots and apples - all sliced up into small and manageable bites. In domestic environments, llamas often consume similar foods as goats and sheep. Llamas also do not have the same water retaining properties of their camel cousins, meaning that the llama must drink more often. A consistent supply of fresh and clean H20 is absolutely integral for keeping a llama in good health. In the wild, however, llamas usually are capable of going for long spells of time without drinking water, as they are able to acquire their necessary hydration through plant consumption.

Female Llamas first breed between 16 to 24 months of age. Llamas do not have a heat cycle; they are induced ovulators (ovulation occurring 24 to 36 hours after breeding). Llamas can be bred at any time of the year. A single baby ("cria") is usually delivered from a standing mother, normally without assistance. Most births occur during daylight hours, which is better for the cria and most certainly more convenient for the llama owners. Twinning is a rare occurrence. Normal birth weights are between 20 to 35 pounds, and the cria usually stands and nurses within 90 minutes. Depending upon the cria's size and the mother's condition, the baby is weaned at 4 to 6 months.

Llama Fun Facts

  • Llamas can be classically subdivided into two types: the short coated Ccara and the medium coated Curaca.
  • There are around 35 different shades of llama wool, ranging from white and black to different shades of brown and grey.
  • Llamas are devoid of hooves and each of their foot comprises of two toes, with soft pads.
  • Llamas were native to the Central Plains of North America, but gradually migrated to South America.
  • Around 4000 - 5000 years ago, Llamas were domesticated and used as pack animals in the Peruvian highlands.
  • Llamas are herbivorous, with very efficient digestive systems.
  • At present, the population of llamas in the United States and Canada is around 20,000 to 25,000.
  • In South America the Llama and Alpaca population is estimated at around 7 million.
  • Llamas are very social animals and always live together with other llamas or herd animals.
  • They make excellent packers, as they are very agile and sure-footed and can carry weight up to 80 lbs.
  • Leathery pads over their two-toed foot helps them maintain a low environmental impact.
  • Llamas mainly communicate with each other is by making a kind of humming sound or by bodily postures.
  • During the breeding season, they make a distinct orgling sound.
  • To ward off any unwanted suitors and to establish the pecking order within the group, Llamas are known to spit on each other.
  • Occasionally, they are also known to spit on humans, if they have been mishandled, threatened or abused.
  • Llamas can be trained to not spit.
  • Llama hair is used for professional doll making because of how soft it is.
  • The Llama species has been around 2.5 million years.
  • Llamas can cost as little as $1,000, and only require 1/4 of an acre of land.
  • Llamas are very intelligent, and can be trained with only a few repetitions.

Did You Know?

  • A mature Llama can range anywhere from 250 to 500 pounds.
  • Llamas are pregnant for almost one year (350 days) before they give birth.
  • Llamas poop is considered to be the cleanest among animals and virtually odorless!
  • Because llamas are a very social animal with a calm nature, they are good animals to have around children.

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