Owning Pet Llamas, My Experience
Upon Moving to an acreage the author acquires llamas and has a learns about llamas even more.
- Our First Llamas
- Basic Llama Information
- More Llamas
- Death of a Llama
- Birth of two Llamas
- Other Llama Facts
Our First Llamas
In 2005 my wife and I moved to an acreage, we were eager to get some pets, and soon acquired four sheep and the seller of the sheep also had two female llamas for sale. We knew llamas were used to guard sheep, so decided to purchase the pair. The llamas came with the names Crystal and Jade.
Basic Llama Information
Llamas were at one time sold in North America for thousands of dollars, but now only a few professionals have animals that costly, being used for show, and fleece. The majority of llamas have a price range from $0 to $200.
Llamas are fairly easy to care for, even more so than the sheep. They are light eaters, and although you can shear them, if you select them with average fleece, they do not require shearing unless you live in a very hot climate. They do need shade and fresh water, as they can get heat stroke, and love a good dust bath.
In the winter they must have shelter, and should be fed extra hay and grain - especially if old, young, or pregnant.
In time we soon learned that llamas can be purchased rather cheaply at auction (in fact one auction we attended the auctioneers were paying people $1 each just to Take a male llama). As such we soon acquired two males, and a younger female.
Keeping with the rock theme we named the males Jasper and Granite. The younger female we called Ali, short for Alabaster.
We learned that when kept with other llamas, form their own herd and do not guard the sheep, rather they go off and do their own llama type business, and the sheep do their own sheep type business some place else.
Death of a Llama
Jasper, being the more mature male, soon bred Crystal and Jade. He was a friendly llama, much more so than the others, and was halter broke. He was always one of the first to come for meals, or for attention.
One winter morning when my wife went out to feed the animals Jasper did not come. He had appeared perfectly healthy the day before, but on this morning was lying down in the shed refusing to move. She called the veterinarian, and headed to work, leaving me with the ailing animal.
When the vet came (he had another emergency first) he was pretty sure that our llama, Jasper, had pneumonia. It had been a bad year for pneumonia in livestock with temperatures going up and down that winter, which is harder on animals than if it gets cold and stays cold. He took some blood for tests, in the mean time Jasper was looking worse and worse, I called my wife to okay euthanasia, but Jasper died moments after I got off the phone. The veterinarian said that likely Jasper had been sick for a few days. You see, most livestock animals try extra hard to look healthy even if they are sick. Jasper had been running around as normal the day before hand, clearly trying not to appear weak, or he would be a target in the natural order of things.
Birth of two Llamas
In time Crystal and Jade gave birth, each having male crias, and we already knew male llamas were not worth a whole lot. Ours being slightly more valuable only because we socialized them and kept them friendly (not all llamas are). Llama breeding (unless one has llamas with excellent quality fleece) is not a profitable business, we sold all except Crystal who would remain our pet to guard our sheep.
In the picture above, the smaller cria, Crystal's baby, was only a few hours hold, being a few weeks younger than Jade's cria, on the right.
Other Llama Facts
Llamas talk in a charming kind of hum. They really sound sweet, but oh so sad when you wean their crias from them. In Crystal's case she now has a favorite sheep, and when separated she cries for Patsy, her sheep buddy.
As well we learned that llamas do not spit when well cared for and socialized. If you have ever been spit on its because the llama either felt threatened or is not use to proper human contact.
Llamas are snobs. They are amazingly fun to watch, but they certainly have their own way of thinking.
Overall I would recommend a llama as a pet but only if you have other animals to keep it company. There are many male llamas out there that are gentle, we were lucky with Jasper, if you do get a male llama you might be better to get a gelded one, or be sure to have a female companion for it or it may become aggressive.