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Species Spotlight: Llama

written by: ElijahS•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 1/12/2009

Discover the Llama

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    Llama is a domesticated South American grazing animal that belongs to the camel family. It has a long neck and legs; its head is relatively small to the overall size, and it carries a pair of big, banana shaped ears. Llamas are known for their long woolly fiber which is used to make ropes and fabrics.

    Llamas stands up to 6 feet. Particularly large specimens can weigh up to 450 pounds. Their coats' color ranges widely, from completely white to completely black, with variations in between. Llamas are used as beasts of burden and are the largest of the four lamoids (alpaca, vicuña and guanaco are the other three).

    Habitat and Diet

    Llamas can be found in mountainous areas of several South American nations: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina. Zoologists believe that llamas migrated south from North America millions of years ago, and eventually became extinct in the place of origin. Incas used llamas as pack-animals hundreds of years ago; modern people continue to do so today.

    Llamas graze on grass and a variety of available plants. They are not especially picky, and can be fed various farm products and mixes that include corn silage, alfalfa and bromgrass. Growing youngsters need sufficiently nutritious foods in order to develop properly.

    Social Behavior

    Llamas concentrate in two kinds of herds: small ones, consisting of several females, juveniles, and one alpha male, and bigger ones, consisting entirely of males. Both males and females can exhibit aggressive behavior in the form of spitting, which they use to enforce social rank within the herd. Males continuously challenge each other and fight for social dominance, using their necks and teeth.

    Gregarious animals, llamas will seek contact with other members of the species when possible. They interact well with humans and can bond with other grazing animals, such as sheep and goats. They are generally considered as good-natured, friendly and intelligent.

    Llamas' gentle demeanor, intelligence and protective instincts make them effective guard animals. A single llama will bond with sheep and protect the lambs from coyotes and other canines. According to reports, some llamas go as far as laying beside a newborn lamb in order to protect it from cold and predators.

    Scientific Classification

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Artiodactyla

    Family: Camelidae

    Genus: Lama

    Species: L. glama

Additional Info
Additional Info