20 Interesting Facts About Llamas

  1. Llama belongs to the camel family, Camelidae. It is a native animal in Central and South America and is also present in a few areas of North America.
  2. Llama initially appeared in South America around 12,000 years ago. Modern llamas arrived in North America at the end of the 19th Century. There are around 200,000 llamas in the USA today.
  3. Alpacas, vicuna and guanaco are closest relatives of llama. Vicuna and guanaco are wild animals. Llama and alpacas differ in size, face, and hair. Llamas are bigger, having elongated faces with banana-sized ears compared to the small faces and short ears of alpacas. The hairs in llamas and alpacas are coarse and bushy, respectively. (Source)
  4. There are two coats of llama fiber. Guard hair is excellent for rope-making, while down is for the preparation of finer garments. Llama wool is lightweight, warm, water-repellent, lanolin-free, and available in several natural colors. (Source)
  5. Llamas can cover up to 20 miles a day while carrying loads of 50 to 75 lbs. They can carry more than 20% of their body weight. 
  6. Adult llamas can reach a height of 6 feet and can weigh around 250 kg. It is the largest member of the lamoid family.
  7. Llamas are usually very gentle. But they don’t carry the load more than their capacity. In this situation, they may refuse to move, sit, spit or even kick the owner.
  8. The average lifespan of llamas is 20 years. The maximum recorded age of a llama is more than 28 years. (Source)
  9. Grasses, shrubs, shoots, and grains form the main part of the llama’s diet. They also like to eat fresh vegetables and fruits. Llamas can survive without water for several days in the wild by compensating through water present in the plants. (Source)
  10. Like other South American camelids, llamas also spit. They spit to show dominance, or females spit to show their refusal of males. A correctly-raised llama generally doesn’t spit on humans. The spit contains oral or stomach ingredients. It can spit accurately at a distance of 10 to 15 feet. (Source)
  11. Llamas have been in use as guard animals since the 1980s. They are ideal for protecting goats, sheep, and alpacas against wild dogs and coyotes, and can easily guard a flock of 200 to 1,000 livestock. They are better than guard dogs in a few aspects.
  12. Llamas produce unique antibodies that can fight against dangerous viruses like MERS, SARS, and coronavirus. (Source)
  13. The Inca were the first to use llamas as a beast of burden hundreds of years ago. It was due to their ability to carry heavy loads and climb the steep terrain of South America. Later, Spaniards also used them in the same role, which continued in modern times. (Source
    Range of llamas in South America
    Llamas are best-suited for life in South America

  14. Fertilizer from llama’s dung played a vital role in the growth of maize around 2,700 years ago in Peru. It resulted in the beginning of agriculture and the rise of the Inca Empire. (Source)
  15. Llamas are known as one of the best therapeutic animals. They are friendlier than alpacas and can assist people who don’t like dogs. Llamas are usually helpful for adults and children with developmental disabilities.
  16. All llamas in a group select a single place for defecation. It makes it easier for the owner to collect poop from the entire herd. 
  17. Llamas have initially domesticated between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago in areas that are now in northern Chile and northwest Argentina.
  18. Llamas can run fast. They can achieve a running speed of 35 mph or more while escaping predators.
  19. According to estimates, the ancestors of llamas originated around 40 million years ago in North America. They later migrated to South America 3 million years ago through a land bridge during the event known as the Great American Interchange.
  20. Humming is the most common sound produced by llamas. Males make screaming and gurgling sounds during fights and breeding, respectively. 


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