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My Favorite Animal, the Llama

February 5, 2010

Llamas are members of the camelid family. The camelids originated on the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago.

From there, about three million years ago, llama-like animals dispersed to South America. By the end of the last ice-age (10,000-12,000 years ago)the camelids were extinct in North America.

Llamas were domesticated from guanacos in the Andean Highlands of Peru4,000-5,000 years ago, and are among the oldest domestic animals in the world. Primarily a beast of burden, they also provide native herdsmen with meat, fiber for clothing, hides for shelter and manure pellets for fuel.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What are they used for?
Uses include breeding stock, packing, driving, fiber production, therapy,& pets.

Arethey intelligent?
Llamas are intelligent and easy to train. In just a few repetitionsthey will pick up and retain many behaviors such as accepting a halter,being led, loading in and out of a vehicle, pulling a cart or carryinga pack.

Can you use their fiber?
Grease-free, light-weight llama hair is warm, luxurious and very popularwith spinners, knitters, weavers and other craftspeople.

Are the good pack animals?
Many llamas are excellent packers. They often carry 25-30 percent oftheir body weight for 5-8 miles, but are not ridden except by children.Their two-toed foot with its leathery bottom pad gives them great sure-footedness.This, and their ability to browse, give the llama an impact on the environmentequivalent to a large deer.

What and how much do they eat?
Llamas are a modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach. Theychew their cud like cattle and sheep. Due to their low protein requirementand efficient digestive system, llamas are economical to keep. Veterinaryadvice should be sought regarding feed, vitamin, and mineral requirementsfor specific regions.

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