One of the many species of animals that live at Farmhouse Animal & Nature Sanctuary is the Llama. I have to admit, years ago, when I first started volunteering at a friend’s sanctuary, I was a bit nervous when I saw the herd of Llamas. I remembered my first experience as a child with one of these intriguing creatures. I could not wait to get up close enough to pet this large eyed animal with the soft curly fur that resembled a small camel. The Llama was not as excited to see me. As I reached out to pet her, she decided to SPIT on me. I do not mean a little spit but green, slimy, smelly cover my face spit!
What I later learned was that a female Llama spits to discipline or control herd members, they will also do so if they are irritated or feel threatened. Nonetheless, I had no plans of getting that close to a Llama again until I met the herd at the sanctuary. It did not take long for me to fall in love with them and can’t imagine not having one or two at our sanctuary. Along the way I learned some interesting things about Llamas …
- Llamas are very social animals and live in herds with other Llamas. Although, for thousands of years they were primarily pack animals in South America while in North America they are primarily used as guardians.
- A full size Llama will grow to be between 5 to 6 feet tall and can weigh between 280 and 450 lbs. Even the baby Llama or Cria will weigh between 20 to 30 lbs at birth.
- They make excellent pack animals not only due to their size & strength, they can carry up to 30 percent of their body weight in a pack for several miles, but because they are very intelligent. After a few repetitions, they have the ability to learn simple tasks.
- Their intelligence makes them perfect as guardians too. Usually one gelding will guard a herd of sheep or other livestock. The addition of a Llama guard has all but eliminated livestock loss for many farmers. Speedy, our male llama here at the farmhouse guards and protects our dwarf and pygmy goat herd from predators.
- Llamas are grazers eating grass and many types of plants. Like cows, they regurgitate their food chewing on it for long periods. In addition to grazing, our Llamas eat a regular diet of hay, grain and on occasion, fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables for a treat.