Curious Llama

Common Questions Answered

What are they used for?

ln western countries llamas are primarily recreational animals. They are bred and raised for packing, fibre production, cart pulling, animal facilitated therapy, breeding stock, exhibition in shows and parades, as guardians of other livestock such as sheep and they make excellent pets.

Do they Spit?

Llamas will spit at other llamas in order to establish the pecking order within a group especially around meal time. Llamas do not spit at people unless they are being abused or feel threatened.

Are they intelligent?

Llamas are intelligent and easy to train. In just a few lessons they will pick up and retain many behaviours such as accepting a halter, being led, loading in and out of a vehicle, pulling a cart or carrying a pack.

What sounds do they make?

Llamas communicate by humming. They also express themselves through a series of ear, body and tail postures. On occasions they will alert other llamas or people with a distinctive alarm call if they feel threatened.

What do they eat?

Llamas are a modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach and like sheep and cattle chew their cud. Because of their relatively low protein requirement and efficient digestive system they can generally be fed most types of pastures and hay. Llamas cost much less to feed than other comparable sized animals. Veterinary advice should be sought regarding feed, vitamin, and mineral requirements for specific regions.

Are llamas good pack animals?

Llamas are sure footed and agile, most are excellent packers and can carry an average of 40 kilograms or 25% of their ideal body weight. Their two toed foot with its leathery pad gives the llama a low environmental impact .Their ability to browse lessens intrusion on native vegetation. Historically llamas have carried packs however they can easily be trained to carry a child.

What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?

Llamas are larger than alpacas with longer banana shaped ears, a straight back and higher tailset. Llamas are usually a two-coated animal ie. a soft down undercoat protected by a coarser hair type fibre called guard hair. This guard hair protects the under fibre from rain and dirt. The principal and most important difference is the nature of the llama. Llamas have been used as meat, fibre and packing animals for over 6,000 years. Bad characteristics such as spitting and kicking etc. have generally been culled out of the llama over the centuries. If a llama spat on a Monday whilst being packed he would probably have been eaten on the Friday! As alpacas have only ever been used as fibre animals this culling has not happened. Alpacas were only brought in once a year and shorn therefore they did not have as close a relationship with humans as llamas.

Can you use their fibre?

Grease-free and light-weight llama fibre is warm, luxurious and very popular with spinners, knitters and weavers.

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