Llamas are not the first animal that comes to mind when thinking of a pet, but they make lovely pets if you have enough space.
Llamas are large animals that are around the same size as a pony. They have a lifespan of 15 to 30 years, stand around 40” at the shoulder and weigh 250 to 400 pounds.
Llamas are social animals that have a calm, gentle persona, and their reputation for spitting is greatly exaggerated. Spitting typically occurs between llamas — not toward humans — but this is not to say that it could not be directed at a human! As they are social, they should be kept in pairs.
Their size limits the places where they can be kept, but generally, open pasture is more than sufficient for them. Veterinary advice should be sought if you feel that their diet is deficient in minerals and vitamins. Following advice from a vet, supplementing their pasture with hay or pellets is advisable. As with all animals, abundant fresh water is required at all times.
Accommodation depends very much on the climatic conditions of your home. In freezing climates, winter housing in a barn or other shelter is advisable, but in warmer climates, a simple shelter will probably be sufficient. Shade for hot days would be a good idea. Sturdy fencing would be great to keep your llamas in and marauding dogs out.
Llamas are very hardy animals and need very little health care. Your local vet will be able to supply a list of vaccinations that will help keep your llamas in excellent condition. Clipping their toenails will have to be carried out on a regular basis, and as their fleece grows, it will need to be sheared.
Pack Animals and Guards for Sheep
Llamas have been used as pack animals by the native peoples of South America for centuries. They are intelligent and calm animals that need little training to carry packs, and their endurance is well documented. Their feet have soft pads on the bottom that do no harm to the environment, so they can be used on walking trails to carry packs for hikers without damaging the path.
Llamas can also be trained to pull a little cart either for fun rides or to work around a small farm. A pony cart may not be ideal for a llama, so look for a vehicle designed for a llama.
Another use of this lovely animal is as a guard for a flock of sheep. While a llama cannot protect the sheep from a pack of dogs or a large cat or bear, it will undoubtedly drive off a coyote or individual dog. It will make enough noise to awaken the deepest sleeper and give you the time to get to your flock.
The fleece from a llama is classified as a luxury fiber and spins into soft, lightweight, warm, durable thread that can be knitted or woven into a luxury fabric.
Llamas make lovely pets, although they do take a little looking after.