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Seven Interesting Facts About Llamas
7 Fun Facts About Llamas
While we don’t always have llamas in our petting zoo, we have had them in the past. Many of you may remember Beau, the friendly black and white llama who lived on the farm for many years. Beau now lives at our Marketing Supervisor’s house year round. Llamas are well-loved by many people around the world, but here are some interesting facts you might not have known!
1. The scientific name for the domesticated llama is Lama glama. They are part of the camelidae family and are related to other even-toed hoofed animals like pigs, goats, giraffes, and hippopotami. They are similar to camels with one distinct, visual difference: no hump! Scientists believe that llamas originated in North America, but migrated to South America many, many years ago. Only in recent years have they been transported back to North America.
2. Llamas are very social animals and usually live in a herd. There is a specific order within the herd, and a llama’s position can be constantly changing within the herd. Male llamas frequently challenge each other for position: they fight with spitting, chest ramming, kicking, and neck wrestling for dominance in the herd. Despite the social order, they live as a family and will protect each other as such.
3. Despite popular belief, llamas rarely spit at humans if they were reared properly. The problem comes when bottle-fed or “over-handled” (by humans) llamas grow up: they start to treat humans like they treat each other, which can include spitting and kicking.
4. The gestational period for a llama is 11.5 months—imagine being pregnant for 350 days! A baby llama is called a cria, and can weigh 20-30 pounds at birth. Crias are usually up and walking around within one hour of birth.
5. Llama wool is usually soft, and is lanolin-free. Their undercoat is fine and soft, and is used for garments or handicrafts. Their outer coat is a bit coarser, and is used for rugs, wall-hangings, and ropes.
6. In the ancient Incan society, llamas were the only beast of burden, and were a symbol of wealth among the Incan nobility. Many times, llama figurines were buried with the dead.
7. Some ranchers and farmers use “guard llamas” to safeguard their sheep or other livestock. Because llamas are instinctively alert and aware of their surroundings, they make great guards. They will make a distinctive sound when an intruder approaches, and can kick and chase them away. Some guard llamas will herd the livestock into a group to help protect them. They aren’t naturally attack animals, so they’re most effective against a single predator, not a pack.