Zoology

How do Llamas Behave



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Llamas are not at all like horses, nor do they behave like cattle. To understand the behavior of a llama, one has to look at camels, or llamas themselves. This is because one of the llamas best known relatives is the camel.

-Curious and Alert-

Llamas are very alert animals; they have long, flexible necks, and are often on the look out. Llamas are quick to notice any changes in the area and will generally go forward to investigate. This behavior is not common in most animals that are often seen as prey, however because of their larger size, llamas are relatively bold. When compared to other animals such as sheep, we can see that llamas are not nervous or flighty, although they will run if the threat is bad enough.

-Response to Threats-

Llamas often confuse predators by having the direct approach. In areas where llamas have been introduced (such as in North America) they may confuse a coyote who is not used to having his prey approach him.   This behavior causes all but the most determined predators to back off, and is why llamas are often kept to guard smaller livestock.  When cornered llamas will spit, kick, or try to flee.

-Spitting-

Llamas regurgitate food and can spit a fowl smelling substance. They will do this if they feel threatened, or cornered, and may spit at each other over food. Tame llamas seldom spit at their owners, but may spit at a stranger, or if they feel nervous.

-Kicking-

Tame llamas seldom kick at people, however they may kick predators or even domestic dogs. Their hooves are split and can be a powerful deterrent for a smaller predator. Unlike horses, llamas seldom kick each other.

-Voices-

Often thought of as a quiet animal, llamas do make a series of sounds and noises. The sounds llamas make are often soft hums, but when separated they will make louder moaning sounds. A less common vocal sound is more like a clicking.

-A Normal Day's Behavior-

Llamas are diurnal and will sleep at night, taking short naps in the day. Coming from the mountains in South America, they do not mind the rain, however they can be heat sensitive and will seek shade on hot days. When happy, llamas often run and tend to bounce with joy. They like climbing, and have a loose herd behavior, meaning they prefer to be within sight of each other although not totally clumped together. They spend their day browsing and grazing, and may have a roll in the dust.  A llama kept without others of its kind will bond with any other livestock kept, be it sheep, cattle, or horses.

-Mating Behavior-

Female llamas do not have a particular heat cycle, rather they can be bred at any time of the year. To mate the female lays down and at such time the male will mount her. If pregnant the female will give birth, usually to a single cria, eleven to twelve months later.

-Male Llamas-

Male llamas are more aggressive than females, apt to make better guard animals, but can be bullies to other livestock if not kept in the company of other llamas, or if not gelded.

-When Sick-

When ill, llamas very much try to hide their health concerns. A llama who is under the weather is likely to exhaust itself jumping and playing in an effort to look strong and fit. This is their tactic as a prey animal to avoid looking weak and vulnerable to attack.

-Overall-

Llamas are intelligent animals, who have been domesticated to serve man. Their behavior traces back to the fact that they have been domesticated for thousands of years, with the friendliest animals kept while those who were more wild and less manageable often being slaughtered. While they still retain some primitive survival skills, overall they behave in such a way that makes them workable as livestock.

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