As with any animal, once you spend time with them, you discover that there is a whole new world waiting to be experienced. This was certainly the case when we collected our first llama.
Everyday brings new llama surprises and discoveries; some are delightful and some are much less so. The illnesses and injuries have provided an incredible journey and required a very steep learning curve.
Llamas are incredibly stoic, meaning that generally, they do not give any indication that they are either sick or in pain. An uncomfortable joke amongst camelid breeders is:
“How do you know when your llama has been ill?”
“There’s a dead animal in the yard.”
Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence and with a bit of experience, you can usually identify when something is not quite right.
The flip side of the coin is that llamas love to play! Here’s a brief video clip from one of the group playtime sessions:
Bella was a delightful girl; one of the easiest llamas we have ever had in the herd. She was a big llama weighing in at over 400lbs and standing taller than any other in the herd. Sadly, she fell whilst being chased by a neighbour’s dog, resulting in a serious knee injury. She endured an 1800km drive across Canada to the Veterinary Collage at Saskatoon for surgery, but died several months later from a bone infection.
Here Bella gets used to walking in a cast:
The birth of a baby is always a cause of excitement. The poor little creature is poked, prodded and sniffed by every member of the herd for several days. Llama gestation lasts eleven and a half months and it’s almost impossible to tell when a llama is pregnant until a day or two before the birth, when her behaviour might give the game away.
It’s usually the excited gathering that alerts us to a newborn Cria in the field:
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