Many people would not consider llamas pets in the traditional sense. Strictly speaking, they're considered livestock—however, because they're friendly, social, calm, and easily trained, they're often a great option for people looking for a more exotic companion. Many times, llama ownership arises from a case of "love at first sight." Of course, they are not for everyone, and given their size and needs, are only appropriate for those with enough room to house them and care for them properly.
Common Name: Llama
Scientific Name: Lama glama
Adult Size: 5 to 6 feet tall (to top of head); 250-450 pounds
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
Can You Own a Pet Llama?
Owning a pet llama is typically allowed in most areas—however, it's always a good idea to check with state and local ordinances in your area before pursuing pet ownership. In some areas, llamas may be considered livestock and come with zoning regulations that restrict their size, number, or how close they can be to your home (or a neighbor's).
Because llamas take a lot of care and attention, it's important to consider if you have the time and means necessary to own one. In addition to being able to properly care for your llama, you should ensure you acquire your pet ethically, either through a certified rescue organization or a reputable breeder.
Llama Behavior and Temperament
Llamas are social animals and, if properly socialized from a young age,they can make very calm, gentle companions. They have a reputation for spitting, but this is more typical between llamas and usually not directed at people (unless poorly socialized). They also make a variety of sounds and can actually act as a guard for sheep and other livestock, fending off a lone dog or coyote and alerting owners to problems.
Llamas are very curious and will approach most people easily and unprompted. They will take a bit to warm up to you, but once you gain their trust they are happy to have you with them in their enclosure, around the yard, etc. Owning more than one llama is fine as they're herd animals, but you should be aware of various behavioral issues that can arise as they fight for dominance, such as spitting, neck wrestling, kicking, and ramming each other.
The amount and type of shelter you provide for your llama is very dependent on your climate. In cold weather, an enclosure like a barn or other windproof housing may be necessary to keep your llama comfortable, while in warmer climates, a three-sided shelter would likely do the trick. In really hot areas, a roofed area with open sides is more effective to allow cooling airflow. Additionally, they'll need plenty of room to run and roam for exercise.
Proper fencing is also necessary to keep llamas in and other animals out. The complexity of the fence depends on your situation, like the number of llamas (or other pets) you have and how important it is to keep them separate. Llamas do best with a companion—another llama of similar age is best (and unless you want a breeding farm, the same sex, too).
Specific Substrate Needs
In their enclosure, llamas should have a dry and warm spot to rest. Typically this can either be lined with straw, wood shavings, or wood chips—however, llamas love to roll in wood chips and they can stick in their fur for quite a long time.
Nutritional requirements and information on feeding are available on the LlamaOrg site. They can be fed on pasture as long as it is free from poisonous plants (as for cattle, sheep). Hay and complete rations are also acceptable. The type of feed available and what should be fed will vary by area. Also, supplementation with vitamins and mineral will depend on the area and is best discussed with a veterinarian or agriculture extension specialist. Ample fresh water is absolutely essential at all times.
What Do Llamas Eat & Drink?
Llamas can eat pretty much anything, which makes them fairly easy to feed. If you have a yard or landscape where your llama can roam freely, they may just fill up on grasses already available to them. If a natural pasture is not available to them, you can feed your llama a fresh supply of hay, along with commercially-available llama food.
Llamas also need plenty of fresh, clean water available to them daily. You should plan to supplement your llama's diet with a salt or mineral supplement for the proper nutrients—corn can also be added to their diet around the winter to help them maintain the proper weight and energy levels throughout the season. Keep a general eye on how much your llama eats—they can easily overeat if they have food readily available to them at all times. If you have any concerns with how much your llamas should be eating, you can consult your veterinarian.
Common Health Problems
Llamas are pretty hardy animals but should have a vaccine schedule designed by a veterinarian based on potential disease threats in your area (which often overlap with diseases and parasites cattle and sheep are prone to). In general, though, they are quite hardy and do well as long as veterinary care is sought early on if something does go wrong. Just know that regular veterinary care will be required and may be expensive if health problems arise.
Provided that you give your llama plenty of room to roam, you should have their exercise needs covered. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to have an acre of land for two to four llamas. Beyond general roaming and exploring, you shouldn't need to keep tabs on your llama's exercise schedule unless directed to do so by a vet.
Properly grooming a llama is a very in-depth job, so if you don't feel up to a lot of learning and time investment, it's best to hire the task out to a pro in your area. The quality of a llama's fur is a direct reflection on their overall health, so a proper diet and ample care is the first step in maintaining a llama's appearance. In general, llamas will need occasional brushing and sheering, as well as regular check-ups on their ears and teeth and toenail trimming.
In order to groom your llama adequately, you need to care for them in accordance with their fur type (a vet can give you insight into this). For instance, classic llamas can be brushed, while woolly llamas and those with Suri fiber (straight-looking fur) should not be. The same differentiation goes with shearing, so check with a local shearing expert before you commence with grooming your llama.
Training Your Llama
Llamas take well to elementary training methods, which may explain why they have been used for packing in South America for centuries—their agility and calm nature make them excellent companions on even the wildest terrain. Chances are you aren't scaling a mountain with your llama any time soon, but they can be trained to walk on a leash or carry small items around your property.
Llamas also do well with kids and are becoming increasingly common as 4-H projects. Not only are they gentle and easy to handle, but theircalm nature makes them great in parades and public appearances. The llama show circuit is growing as well, with many different classes, as well as trials based on athletic abilities. They are even being used in animal-assisted therapy, where animals are taken to retirement homes and hospitals to reach out to residents and patients.
Purchasing Your Llama
You should always look to obtain your llama (or any pet) from a skilled and conscientious breeder that practices good preventive healthcare and has an excellent track record with previous generations of llamas under their care. It's always a good idea to visit the breeder whenever possible so you can observe the conditions their llamas are kept in. If you have trouble finding reputable breeders in your area, you can always reach out to livestock rescue foundations geared towards llamas to help unite you with your new pet.
Similar Pets to the Llama
If you are interested in other barnyard animals like a llama, check out:
- Goat Species Profile
- Potbellied Pig Species Profile
- Chicken Species Profile
Are llamas hard to take care of?
Llamas take a lot of care and while none of it is particularly hard, it is time consuming. It's important to consider if you can manage to care and provide for a llama before adopting or purchasing one.
How long to llamas live as pets?(Video) Testing 'PET FRIENDLY' Shops with Alpaccas
With proper care, llamas can live between 15 and 20 years in captivity, with some reaching as many as 30 years old.
Can you domesticate a llama?
Generally speaking, more llamas live within domestication (either in a farm environment or as true pets) than out in the "wild." They adapt very well to life alongside humans and other livestock and will thrive with the right care for many years to come.
Llamas are first and foremost pets and companions. They are ideally suited to this task because of their predictable low-key temperament, intelligence, and ease of maintenance. Llamas are becoming increasingly popular pets due to their mild manners, cleanliness, and friendly dispositions.Can I keep a llama in my backyard? ›
You don't need a huge backyard.
Llamas and alpacas are like other farm animals: They need plenty of fenced outdoor space, along with a barn area to hang out in when it's cold or rainy. So if you live in a city or a busy suburb, you probably won't be able to bring one home.
Legality. Owning a pet llama is typically allowed in most areas—however, it's always a good idea to check with state and local ordinances in your area before pursuing pet ownership.Can llamas live in a house? ›
It is not at all unknown for llamas to live happily indoors when people who want a ``different'' kind of pet decide to be llama owners. They take to the idea of house training quite easily. But they are larger than goats in size, so a big house might be a good idea. Here's a surprise: Llamas are related to camels.How long does a llama live? ›
In the Wild
Llamas are very social animals and live in herds. Fully grown llamas can be nearly 6 feet tall and up to 350 pounds. They can live for 20 years in the wild.
Llamas are generally intelligent yet docile and respond well to appropriate handling. The enjoyment you experience from working with your llamas, and the trust they develop in you, will be directly proportional to the kindness and respect you offer them.How aggressive are llamas? ›
Llamas are typically aggressive toward canines and appear to readily bond with sheep and aggressively protect them, when pastured away from other llamas.Can a person ride a llama? ›
Llamas have been used throughout their history as pack animals. Llamas typically aren't used for riding, but some are bred for this purpose. For the most part, it is recommended that only children under 50 lbs should ride llamas. Most llamas cannot withstand the weight of an adult directly on their spine.Can llamas live with dogs? ›
Llamas are peaceful, quiet animals that get along with many others, including dogs. Dogs can seem at ease and be playful around llamas. If the relationship is going well, you will see your dog show friendly behavioral traits, such as wagging its tail.Do llamas need to be vaccinated? ›
Vaccination of Llamas and Alpacas
Most animals should receive Clostridium perfringens type C and D vaccinations and tetanus toxoid. In rabies endemic areas, a rabies vaccine should be administered.
Left to their own devices, alpacas will actually create a sort of latrine, only pooping in one specified area. That behavior can be expanded upon until alpacas are pretty much litter trained.
While it's natural and good to want to help your llama in winter, it may put you at ease to know that llamas are well-suited to winter weather and that many livestock animals prefer being outside to being locked in a barn. Llamas have very warm, thick coats, naturally, so they can enjoy the snow in comfort.Do llamas protect their owners? ›
Guard llamas have been most common on ranches located in the Western United States, where larger predators, such as the coyote, have been more prevalent. Not every llama will guard, however, and it should not be assumed that because it is a llama it will guard.Do llamas need grass? ›
Llamas are herbivores that are built to forage on a wide variety of plants, much like goats and sheep. They'll eat grasses, flowering plants, shrubs and even trees.What disease do llamas carry? ›
Small and Large Intestinal Diseases of Llamas and Alpacas
The primary recognized infectious causes of diarrhea in neonates include rotavirus, coronavirus, cryptosporidia, and enteropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli.
One good thing about llamas is the fact that they are quite easy to care for. You will need to make sure you have enough room for them. As far as shelter, you'll need to provide a clean, well-ventilated barn or three-sided shed. Ideally, llamas should have access to pastures with good grass.What does a llama eat? ›
In their historic range: Llamas eat primarily shrubs and grasses. Their food provides most of the moisture they need to survive in a dry, high-elevation environment. At the zoo: Llamas are fed hay, specially formulated biscuits for herbivores and fresh browse.What is llama afraid of? ›
Llamas have a natural fear of dogs and coyotes, and they will charge and stomp any intruding canines until the danger passes. Llamas can also help alert you to human intruders, as they will often emit a loud, goose-like scream when a stranger approaches.Do llamas like to be hugged? ›
' The truth is most llamas and alpacas are aloof and don't like to be touched.”How do llamas like to be petted? ›
Only pet the front of their neck, and don't venture to touch their backs of their necks or bodies, as it's a sign of dominance you will likely offend the llama.
Llamas should never be kept on their own, they need a llama companion. Two females or two geldings are best. If you want to breed llamas then be sure you have the right facilities and enough land to keep them all and to separate them safely.Do you need two llamas? ›
A pack is a family unit, and llamas do well in groups of three to six. It is true that a single llama or two females that possess a guardian's temperament can be used to protect small livestock, specifically alpacas, goats and sheep. Llamas will defend these critters with their lives.Can llamas jump over fences? ›
When llamas are content in their living-groups and are left with their usual companions, even if just one other Ilama, they generally respect standard 4 foot fences used for other large livestock. However, llamas are very agile and can easily jump 4.5 feet when they feel the need to do so.Which is better alpaca or llama? ›
Although a llama is the typical choice, both llamas and alpacas are used as pack animals. Since llamas are larger and stronger, they're able to carry more weight. In fact, a llama can carry around 75 pounds over a distance of at least 20 miles in a single day.Is llama meat edible? ›
As well as being eaten grilled, llama is also cooked in several traditional dishes in northern Argentina, such as different types of stew. Charqui de llama is used as a filling in the savory pies known as empanadas. Charqui is very thinly sliced meat that is dried in the sun and preserved in salt for long periods.Which are friendlier llamas or alpacas? ›
Both animals are very friendly especially when they are well-socialized. However, if you want to know which one is “friendlier”, the alpaca is the one for you. Not only do they look warm and fuzzy, but their temperament reflects this! They rarely spit on anything, let alone humans.How much weight can a llama hold? ›
How much weight can Llamas carry? Llamas carry about 20-25% of their body weight, or 75 to 100 pounds.Do llamas carry rabies? ›
Early signs of rabies in llamas and alpacas may include lameness, ataxia, or posterior paresis. Similar prodromal signs along with inappetence and/or fine muscle tremors are reported in sheep and goats. Both furious and paralytic forms have been observed in small ruminants and camelids with rabies.Do llamas get worms? ›
Meningeal worm, or Parelaphostrongylus tenuis (P. tenuis) is a nematode parasite that can invade the nervous system of small ruminant and camelid species such as alpaca, llama, goats and sheep.Will llama protect chickens? ›
Yes, llamas are elite fox chasers. They bond with sheep, alpacas, goats, deer, and even poultry, guarding them from predators.
Classic or Ccara llamas are better able to cope with hot temperatures. Their long coarse, guard hair acts like a parasol, shading the body from the sun and allowing the air to circulate in the soft down beneath.What do llamas do for humans? ›
Llamas contribute much more than transportation to the human communities in which they live. Leather is made from their hides, and their wool is crafted into ropes, rugs, and fabrics. Llama excrement is dried and burned for fuel.How do you deworm a llama? ›
Give orally - 6cc/100 pounds of body weight. Give one dose once per day for three days in a row (max). May need to repeat in two weeks depending on parasite load. May also have an ovacidal effect – meaning that it kills eggs and thus prevents pasture contamination – therefore it is good for isolation pens.Can llamas go without water? ›
Most animals in the animal kingdom need water every day. Llamas are no different. They may choose not to drink on occasion and will not drink as much as a horse; nonetheless; llamas need fresh clean water daily. You can lead a llama to water but can't force it to drink.Do alpacas need baths? ›
There is no need to groom or bath alpacas. All fiber care is done after it is shorn off the alpaca. However they do enjoy a good belly bath when it is hot out.Is there such thing as a mini alpaca? ›
Miniature Alpacas weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. Miniature Alpacas stand less than 32 inches at the shoulder. A male Alpaca is called a “macho”.Can alpacas be left alone for a week? ›
Can alpacas be kept on their own? No, alpacas are natural herd animals, so become easily stressed if left alone even for a short period of time. They should always be kept in groups of 3 or more.Can you ride on a lama? ›
Given the many wonderful things llamas do for their human companions, it is only natural that many people would wonder if they can ride a llama. However, the size and weight differential between even the largest llamas and other animals used for riding means that llamas are generally not suitable as riding companions.How does a lama sleep? ›
That is just the way llamas and alpacas lie down. They curl their legs up underneath them when they rest or sleep. The position is called kush, and camels, a distant relative, do it too.What is the average price of a lama? ›
The cost to buy a llama will depend on the age, its temperament, wool quality gender, its history, the size and where it's purchased. On average, a llama can cost anywhere from $300 to as much as $5,000.
Guard animals, such as dogs, donkeys or llamas, can help deter bears and other predators (like wolves) from preying on livestock.Are male or female llamas better? ›
Male llamas are more commonly used for their trekking, packing and guarding skills. Female llamas usually make naturally very good mothers and both sexes can provide fine wool for hand-spinners. Llamas make delightful field pets, needing free-draining ground, a basic field shelter and a simple handling facility.Does llama have immunity to COVID? ›
Mount Sinai-led researchers have shown that tiny, robust immune particles derived from the blood of a llama could provide strong protection against every COVID-19 variant, including Omicron, and 18 similar viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak.What do you feed llamas? ›
Llamas eat grass and other plants as herbivores, and their diet consists of various grasses, vegetables, and other vegetation. They have a large natural range in South America where they are kept as farm animals and pets.Do llamas need a salt block? ›
Llamas also enjoy a salt block. Zinc and sea kelp can be added to the minerals to help with skin conditions and wool growth. Copper is toxic to llamas so don't feed goat minerals or goat feed to your llamas.Do you have to cut llamas hair? ›
Even if you aren't interested in using or selling the fleece, the llama's health will benefit from shearing if you live where summers are hot. Llamas do vary considerably in fleece length and thickness, so the importance and frequency of shearing will depend on the individual animal as well as climate.Can llamas carry humans? ›
Although llamas can average between fifteen and twenty miles a day, llamas lack the strength of oxen, camels and horses,so they're unable to carry adult humans or pull any kind of machinery.How much weight can a llama carry? ›
How much weight can Llamas carry? Llamas carry about 20-25% of their body weight, or 75 to 100 pounds.Are llamas aggressive animals? ›
Defensive and offensive aggressive behaviours in alpacas and llamas include biting, bumping, or kicking (McGee Bennett, 2014) and can put both handlers as well as animals at risk.Are llamas hard to care for? ›
One good thing about llamas is the fact that they are quite easy to care for. You will need to make sure you have enough room for them. As far as shelter, you'll need to provide a clean, well-ventilated barn or three-sided shed. Ideally, llamas should have access to pastures with good grass.
When it comes to sizing a llama's indoor living space, you should allow for at least 40 square feet of space for each llama. Dirt-covered flooring or another slip-resistant material is important for llama living spaces since slips and falls could lead to torn ligaments and joint damage.What do llamas eat? ›
Feeding. Llamas graze on grass and, like cows, regurgitate their food and chew it as cud. They chomp on such wads for some time before swallowing them for complete digestion. Llamas can survive by eating many different kinds of plants, and they need little water.Do llamas like hot or cold weather? ›
While it's natural and good to want to help your llama in winter, it may put you at ease to know that llamas are well-suited to winter weather and that many livestock animals prefer being outside to being locked in a barn. Llamas have very warm, thick coats, naturally, so they can enjoy the snow in comfort.What is the lifespan of a llama in captivity? ›
Both males and females reach sexual maturity at two to three years old. Well-cared-for llamas can live for more than twenty years; average life span is 15 years.