| Wildlife & Flora
Llamas may be a little intimidating up close but that doesn’t stop them from being absolutely adorable. These big, fluffy creatures can be found all over the world but are native to South America, where they are used for their wool and meat and as a pack animal.
If you head to Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador on your next vacation you are guaranteed to see more llamas than you have ever seen cumulatively up until that point. Unless, of course, you live on a llama farm back home. These wonderful animals are all over the place and they come with some pretty interesting history and culture. Have a read through these fascinating llama facts so that next time you encounter a llama in the flesh, you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Background Information about Llamas
The llama is a relative of the camel, but without the hump. They were first domesticated in the pre-Colombian times, around 5,000 years ago, and have been used by the Andean people as pack animals ever since. Llamas can carry an astonishing amount and if they are in good physical condition, can cover around 20 miles in a day. Interestingly, llamas are well aware of their own physical limits. If a llama is laden down with too great a weight, it will simply lie down on the floor and refuse to move. It might even hiss and spit to show its discomfort.
Llamas subsist on grass and other plants and do not need very much water as they absorb it from the plants they consume. This allows them to thrive in sub-optimal conditions, such as those found in the barren Bolivian Altiplano. The llama’s stomach has three compartments, allowing it to efficiently digest tough vegetation. Once it has eaten and digested everything it needs to survive, llamas poop it out and farmers then use this excrement as fertilizer. Weirdly, llama poop has virtually no odor to it at all. In fact, back in the day the Incas used to leave llama feces in the sun to dry and then burned it for fuel.
A llama’s wool is considered one of the greatest fibers on earth, after that of the alpaca. It is wonderfully lightweight as well as being soft and water-resistant. If you visit the cool, damp regions of South America, you will praise the llama gods for your super warm llama wool sweater. Llama wool is also free from lanolin, which is the fiber that causes sheep’s wool to be so itchy. If that wasn't enough, llama wool fibers are also fire-resistant, making that sweater of yours both comfortable and safe!
Fun Facts about Llamas
Now you know all of the practical information about llamas, here are some of the more obscure facts about these animals. For starters, llamas are expressive creatures and if one llama has a problem with another llama, it will express this by sticking its tongue out at the other llama. Llamas can also reach a top speed of around 35 mph, so you don’t want to get on a llama’s bad side or you might find yourself in a high-speed chase.
Another curiosity about llamas is the social hierarchy that exists within herds. Llamas that hiss, spit and fight are kept at the lower end of the social spectrum, while those with more discipline are held at the top. However, it is easy to slip down the ladder. In fact, one small fight can cause a llama to be knocked off its top spot and forced to the other end of the social sphere.
There are millions of llamas in South America and each one you see is as exciting as the last. Book a trek to Machu Picchu or simply wander through the mountainous town of Cusco, in Peru, and count how many you see on your adventure. For more information about Llama Facts or booking a tour in Peru, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.