Don't buy babies younger
than 6 months, and resist the urge to play "mom".
Adorable as they are, baby llamas (called crias) are not suitable
pets - they would be much better off with their mothers until
they are fully weaned, and most reputable breeders will not
sell crias under six months of age.
Cuddling is off limits; keep physical human contact to a minimum.
An adult llama bonded to a human from near-birth without proper
herd socialization could be dangerous when it naturally treats
the human as another llama. Seek information from knowledgeable
reputable breeders like Leisure Acres Llamas or from your veterinarian.
Llamas should not be
left in halter all the time. Llamas must be
trained to accept a halter, but leaving your llama in halter
all the time is both cruel and dangerous. It can result in abscesses,
ulcers, and calluses at the very least. Learn to halter your
llama when it is necessary and remove the halter when the event
must be fed reasonably. Non-breeding llamas
fare very well on free choice hay, adequate pasture, fresh water
and free choice loose minerals. If they are breeding, underweight
or lactating, supplement them with a feed formulated for llamas.
feed your llamas grain or pellets, be sure they have free access
to a source of salt and minerals.
Heat and humidity are
adjustments for llamas. Llamas don't handle
heat or humidity well. They must have shelter from direct sun
and they need fans or some kind of air movement if their shelter
is enclosed. Llamas are happy to have a hosing or bath when
the heat is oppressive, and those with heavy wool need to be
sheared in the spring.
Some plants and trees
are poisonous to llamas. Llamas are browsers
and like to eat a variety of plants. Unfortunately, some vegetation
(like rhododendron and wilted cherry) are very toxic to llamas.
A list of toxic plants and trees is available - check with any
of the associations devoted to camelids.
Llamas don't like to
be alone. One of the most endearing llama traits
is their intense attachment and concern for each other. Never
buy a single llama to be kept without any other llamas; add
a llama to an existing herd or buy them as a pair. And expect
some eccentric behavior if a pair is separated; if you take
just one of them out of their enclosure, the one remaining may
become extremely agitated and may even jump the fence in an
attempt to rejoin the other. Keep them together to keep them
happy and healthy.
Llamas need shelter
and fencing. Llamas
need protection from wind, snow, rain, sun and lightning. Fencing
is also necessary, but fencing appropriate for any kind of livestock
of similar size should be adequate. Never use barbed wire, which
can easily injure their eyes or skin.
Male llamas must be
Males close to 1 year should not reside with females, and young
females should not reside with males of any age. By about
two years of age males develop very sharp upper and lower fighting
teeth. If untrimmed, these teeth can cause serious damage to
other males (and/or to an uncooperative female). Consult your
veterinarian about removing the tips of your male llama's fighting
Llama pens must be kept
clean and free of "stuff" Llamas are curious.
They explore everything. Don't leave potentially dangerous lumber,
wire, baling string, machinery parts, and farming implements
where llamas can reach them, get tangled in them, or chew on
Take a tip from the
Boy Scouts... be prepared Have a plan for every
contingency. Talk to your vet or an experienced friend (like
the folks at leisure Acres Llamas) who can tell you what to
have in a first aid kit. You can control feelings of panic in
an emergency by knowing that you have searched out good informationb
and are prepared with the tools you will need. It could save
your llama's life. Llamas have amazed veterinarians and practiced
livestock breeders with their hardiness and resistance to disease.
However, since they are stoics, as well as being hardy, when
a llama manifests symptoms of distress, it's usually serious.