While llamas might be known for their sometimes goofy expressions and spitting, there's much more to these tall mammals. For example, llamas are being used as guards for small animal herds because they will chase off predators, according to an Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine web page. Most llamas in the United States are pets, but in their native range they have many more titles than just "companion pets."
Llamas typically stand around 3 to 4 feet and can look a 6-foot-tall man in the eye, according to the according to the website for Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG and aquarium. Adults can weigh anywhere from about 250 to 450 pounds, males are slightly larger than females. Their long wool comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Shades of gray, beige, brown and red are all common, as well as white and black. They might be spotted, patched or solid-colored.
Range and Habitat
Native to South America along the Andes mountains, llamas aren't found in the wild anymore. This is similar to another South American species: the domestic guinea pig. Their natural habitat is the plateaus of the Andes, where low-growing shrubs and grasses cover the ground and provide them with food.
Llamas are one of four of the camel's New World cousins. The other three are alpacas, vicunas and guanacos, according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences website. Llamas don't have a hump like their Old World cousins, but they do share certain characteristics with them. Llamas and alpacas are closely related and can interbreed. When they breed, the hybrid baby is known as a huarizo.
Llamas are used extensively as pack animals in their native land and other parts of the world. Sometimes, however, they're also used for leather, wool and food. In North America and Europe, the dominant purpose of the species is as a pet. Their stubbornness and tenacity have shown useful as well; people use llamas as protectors of smaller livestock such as goats. The guard llama often adopts the sheep or goat herd as its own and protects it.
All camels either stick out their tongues or spit to show distaste and llamas are no exception. Much like little kids, a llama will stick its tongue out at another llama it is unhappy or angry with. As pack animals, llamas will carry varying weights over rough terrain with ease. In their homeland, llamas accompany their humans through the mountainous region and are responsible for helping to transport goods.