Lama glamaLlama

Family

  • Camelidae

Lifespan

  • Up to 20 years.

Size

  • Length: 5 to 7 feet
  • Weight: 200 to 400 pounds

Habitat

  • Mountains, alpine grassland, plateaus, and shrub lands

Origin

  • Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
    • However, there are no true wild llamas.

Diet

  • Wild: Grasses, herbs, shrubs, lichens; chews cud.
    • The llama does not drink much water, getting most of its moisture from the plants it eats.
  • Zoo: Timothy hay, and llama chow.

Reproduction

  • Female llamas are "induced ovulators" which means they mate first and then the egg follows. Usually, it is the other way for most mammals.
  • The gestation period can last approximately 350 days (11 to 11 ½ months).
  • Usually, llamas give birth to a single young or "cria" as they are called in South America.
    • Twins are very rare.
    • Females do not lick the cria clean after birth due to their short, attached tongue which can only stick out around ½ inch.

Unique Characteristics

  • The mouth has a divided upper lip and continually growing teeth, allowing it to graze tough grasses.
  • Llamas are ruminants, meaning they rechew their food after is has passed through some of the chambers of the stomach before digesting it again.
    • This way, they get maximum nutrients from their food.

Special Adaptationsupset Llama

  • The camel families are the only mammals that have oval red blood cells for more efficient oxygen transport.
  • They walk on pads at the end of their toes instead of their hooves so they can travel easily over rocky ground.
  • Wool protects them from harsh climates.
  • When angry or under attack, they spit up a foul smelling liquid from their stomach.

History

  • The Andean Indians used llamas in many ways.
    • They carried goods, produced meat, wool and leather.
    • They used their fatty tissue for candles, made rope and garment with the hair, made sandals from the hide, and even used the dry dung for fuel.
  • The Spanish Conquistadors used nearly 300,000 llamas to haul silver from the Incan mines when they invaded South America in the 1500s.

Conservation Status

  • In the U.S. today, llamas are used as pack animals and for their wool, although, both these uses are becoming obsolete.
  • Llamas are not currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because they are domestic animals.

 Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Lama glama (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/309018
  4. Burnie, Dave and Don E. Wilson. Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife.New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 2001.