|Size:||Height: 3 to 4 feet (91 to 122 cm) at shoulder|
|Weight:||250 to 500 pounds (114 to 227 kg)|
|Diet:||Grasses, herbs, shrubs, lichen and other plants|
|Young:||One cria every other year (twins are rare)|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Lifespan:||15 to 29 years|
· The llama is related to the alpaca, guanaco, camel and vicuņa.
· Like camels and alpacas, llamas have a divided upper lip.
· Llamas are very social animals and historically lived in herds.
Llamas have long shaggy wool on their bodies, but shorter fur on their head, neck, and legs. The fur colour can be white, brown, yellow, black, blue or a mixture.
Llamas lived in North America until the end of the last Ice Age, but migrated to South America. There are no known llamas left in the wild, but they were once found in the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, on high, grassy plateaus 7,400 to 12,800 feet (2,300 to 4,000 metres) above sea level.
Like cows, llamas chew their cud, which means regurgitating food recently eaten, then chewing it and swallowing it again. This extracts more nutrition from the food and is one reason why llamas can survive on little food. They graze on grasses, herbs, shrubs, lichen and other plants. Llamas rarely need to drink because they get a lot of moisture through the food they eat.
Llamas have a gestation period of up to 12 months and give birth to one offspring weighing between 18 and 35 pounds (8 to 16 kg). They often give birth standing up, and the baby falls to the ground. The mother does not lick the baby dry, but leaves it to dry on its own. Within a couple of hours, the cria will be able to stand and nurse. It nurses for up to eight months before being weaned. Llamas reach their full body size by the age of four or five.
Llamas were first domesticated thousands of years ago by South American Natives for use as beasts of burden in the Andes. They are generally calm and peaceful animals, although they have been known to lie down, refusing to move if maltreated or if the burden given to carry is too heavy, even spitting or hissing in anger when provoked. However, they give many warning signs before spitting, including pinning their ears back and then tilting their head and pointing their nose in the air. Before actually spitting at a person, the llama spits in the air, and if the offending person or animal has not stopped, the llama will spit directly at the offender. Although not used as widely in modern times to carry burdens, llamas are again gaining popularity for this purpose because of their sure footing in rocky terrain, and are also still bred for their wool and milk. Because the males are larger and stronger, they were once mostly used as pack animals, while females were used for breeding purposes and for wool. Llamas are friendly and curious animals, and will come forward to sniff strangers. Some llamas like to lie on their backs in the sun with their legs in the air, as if they are sun tanning. It is believed they do this to cool down in hot weather, because they have less wool on their stomachs, so that heat can escape.
Llamas are not considered a conservation concern.
Llama Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US