Llamas As Pets – What You Need To Know

 

pinkerBy Kerri Smith
If anyone were to ask me what llama’s were all about it would be two words…peace & serenity. I’m blessed to have these wonderful animals in my life, although I would never have imagined I would actually have llamas as pets (along with my 2 rottweiler’s, 3 horses, 7 cats & miniature donkey, Jeremiah).
 
Argentine Llamas & Their History
High in the Andes Mountains, llamas have been helping people carry their wares for thousands of years. The llama (pronounced “yama”), is a member of the camel family, and is one of the oldest domesticated animals. Their thick coats of wool and honed survival instincts enable them to thrive in one of the most extreme climates on earth.
 

The lost Incan city of Machu Pichu is perched on a high saddle, between two jagged mountain peaks, 2,000 ft. above the mighty Urubamba River in Peru. So remote is the location, that the Spanish conquistadors never found it!

The Incan empire, which flourished from about 1200 to 1532 AD; depended on the llama to transport trade goods, root crops, and building materials to extremely difficult to reach locations throughout the South American highlands.

Revered by the Andean people, llamas are much like the bison to the indigenous cultures of North America. The llama is the second most depicted form in Andean art, next to the sun (which was their deity). This “whistling llama pot” is well over a thousand years old. The Quechua people of the Andes call the llama, “Silent Brother”.

Selectively bred for gentleness, for over five thousand years, a well trained llama will eagerly follow adults and children alike. Llamas have enabled us to facilitate wilderness experiences with a wide range of people; from groups of enthusiastic young trailblazers to experienced mountaineers, to self-proclaimed couch potatoes.

Llamas are the perfect low-impact, high altitude pack animal. Their leather padded, two-toed feet and natural agility give them a sure-footedness akin to mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Their tracks and droppings are similar to an elk’s, and have little impact on fragile wilderness trails. They exemplify the “leave no trace” wilderness ethic.

Llamas are great hiking companions. They are alert, curious, and just as excited to be in the mountains as we are. They walk at a comfortable pace for hiking humans; and their keen senses of smell, hearing, and sight will often point out a distant herd of deer or elk for us. They have captured our hearts with their unique, “llama-like” behavior and amusing personalities. Their presence makes our time in the wilderness even more memorable.

My Llamas

“Mountain Mama”, my 17 year old likes to have her way and space. She loves to roll in the pasture and she’s considered the “boss lady”. I also have “Pilgrim”, who is a 2 yr. old male and he’s very cool and fun…loves to just “watch you”. I also lost a very special llama, “Pinker” a couple of years ago. He was the most photographed Llama in the Houston area. Pinker’s photo was on Houston Live Stock Show & Rodeo web-site for years.  

 

 

  It was very difficult when Pinker passed so suddenly. I teach Pet Loss and Grief with Live Oak Pet Services, Pet Crematory in Anderson Texas… but “we all” feel the ache when we lose our best friends. Death is part of life…and I like to look at death as a “celebration of life!”
A Few FAQ’s
  

  

 
1. “Does your llama spit?”  That is the first question I always get.  Not at us, I reassure them.  Spitting is merely the llama’s way to establish dominance and to tell the other llamas “get outa’ my face”!  Many times when they are eating at a common trough, one of them will raise his/her head and spray the other with a mouthful of grain!  Again, reinforcing “it’s mine”.
Just a hint:  Don’t get in the crossfire! 
 
2. Are llamas noisy? Llamas are the most remarkable, intelligent animals.  They are elegant and bring one a sense of serenity.  They make a soothing “hummm ” sound when they are content, and often hum to humans, as well as the other llamas.
 
3. Can llamas be trained? Llamas can be trained in many areas such as:
 
.. Follow you on a hiking trail carrying a pack.
.. Serve as a guard animal for goats, sheep, etc.
.. Compete in halter and performance at Llama Shows, – e.g.,  over obstacles, calmly  
   walking through a simulated public relations course, and 
.. dressing up in a costume contest, etc.  (Children and adults participate!)
 
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo features a llama show each year.
One of the favorite events is “Loan a Llama”.  A llama owner loans a trained llama
to a child who has applied to participate.  Many times these are kids that have never seen a live llama, much less lead one.  What an exciting and rewarding activity for all!
 
Llamas are easy keepers.  The subsist on grazing, hay, llama food,  plus require annual shots and periodic worming.  Here in Texas they are normally partially shorn for the summer months.  This is to keep them cool – plus one can sell the wool.
 
Once you have owned a llama – you ask yourself:  “Why did I wait so long”?
They are unique and such a pleasure to be around.
 
My good friends, Jerry & Eileen Bennick of J and E Ranch, Hockley Texas showed me what a special gift of llama ownership is all about. If you have questions about llamas, feel free to email me or Jerry & Eileen at texas2sum@hotmail.com.
Kerri Smith
Founder 
Live Oak Pet Services, Pet Crematory
pilgrim
Pilgrim
mountainmamaMountain Mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to Llamas As Pets – What You Need To Know

  1. Harry Vogel

    May 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    To Kerri, the llama whisperer,
    You are something else! What DON,T you do?
    Stay well and give my reguards to all.
    Harry

  2. Kerri Smith

    June 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I just love animals…They are dear to my heart and always will be..so anything to do with them..I’ll be involved.
    Love your work Harry at My Crystal Companion. I know you care too… Be Great!

  3. Amy Haywood

    August 13, 2009 at 11:34 am

    We had llamas visit the inside of the library once and the handlers said that they would not do their business inside. They only used a special place on the farm. Is that true?

  4. Aleisha

    September 8, 2009 at 1:34 am

    W O W… I LOVE LLAMAS TOO! They are so amazing and beautiful! I have always wanted one but, alas, i live in New Zealand where we have no llamas, but alpacas. by any chance, could you e mail me a one? LOL!

  5. skipper crosby

    November 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    WHAT A BLESSING OUR LLAMAS HAVE TO US AND OTHER’S AS WELL.

    THERE WERE NO LLAMAS IN OUR CITY AND WHEN OUR FIRST THREE LLAMAS ARRIVED….THE CARS WERE LITERALLY LINED UP ALONG THE FRONT FENCE OF OUR PROPERTY – TO OBSERVE AND WATCH THE LLAMAS. AND WHAT I THOUGHT WAS SO WONDERFUL….FROM INFANTS TO ELDERLLY WERE IN AWE OF THE LLAMAS.

    IF I WAS OUT MOWING THE FRONT PASTURE OR JUST LOVING ON MY PRECIOUS LLAMAS, I WOULD INVITE THE FOLKS THAT WERE ADMIRING THE LLAMAS FROM THEIR CARS, TO COME INSIDE THE GATE AND GET AN UPCLOSE EXPERIENCE WITH THESE AWESOME AND ELEGANT CREATURES.

    THE BEST BLESSING OF ALL……MY MOTHER IS 87 YEARS OF AGE, AND HAS MOVED IN WITH ME DUE TO HER DECLINING HEALTH. EVENTHOUGH SHE IS IN A WHEELCHAIR…..THE LLAMAS ARE HER ENTERTAINMENT. SHE WATCHES THEM ALL DAY LONG…EVERYDAY. I TAKE HER OUTSIDE IN HER WHEELCHAIR AND THE LLAMAS GATHER AROUND HER AND LIE DOWN BESIDE HER. WHEN MOTHER ISN’T OUTSIDE….SHE CONSTANTLY SITS AT THE WINDOW AND WATCHES THEM.

    GODBLESS ANYONE WHO IS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE THE LOVE OF A LLAMA !

    SKIPPER/KELLER TX