Lessons Learned with a Pet Llama

Upon Moving to an acreage the author acquires llamas and has a learning process at the same time.

In 2005 my wife and I moved to an acreage, we were eager to get some pets, and soon acquired four sheep and two female llamas to guard them and to be interesting, exotic pets. The llamas came with the names; Crystal, and Jade.

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 though, as they can get heat stroke, and love a good dust bath.

Crystal

In time we soon learned that llamas, particularly intact male 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.

Ali and Jasper

Lesson number one was that llamas, 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.

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. Which leads to lesson number two.

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. The lesson that time was that 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.

Crystal and her son, who was later named Loverboy by his new owner.

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). So our dreams of becoming llama breeders were dashed, lesson three – llamas are not a profitable business, we sold all except Crystal who would remain our pet to guard our sheep.

Lesson four and five really didn’t occur in this sequence, but just things we learned along the way. Llamas talk in a charming kind of hum. They really sound sweet, but oh so sad when you wean their crias from them. In Crystals case she now has a favorite sheep, and when separated she cries for Patsy, her sheep buddy. As well we learned that they 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.

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 – Lesson Six – this happened to Crystals son as he was sold to a farm with no other llamas and when he reached sexual maturity he went from super friendly, to dominant and unsafe.

Crystal with a Jacob ram lamb, actually the brother of her current favorite sheep.

Currently our llama, Crystal, lives with 10 sheep, and a donkey.  In the spring she will have a bunch of lambs to play with and watch over – she particularly enjoys the new lambs.  We consider her a big exotic pet.

Related Links

Care for Pet Llamas or Alpacas

Care for Pet Sheep

Difference Between Llamas and Labradors – Livestock/Deadstock

The Exotic Jacob Sheep

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  1. Ubel Ein

    On October 23, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    This is a great article on llamas!!

  2. Chris Stonecipher

    On October 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Your Llamas are handsome and your article is informative. My wife and I always wanted some land with llamas. Thanks for sharing.

  3. RAJEEV BHARGAVA

    On October 23, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    crystal and jade are so beautiful, please give them a big hug and kiss from me to them. i enjoyed this article immensely, mark, and the photos of the llamas were really beautiful. they are going ot be really happy with you. all the best to all of you for a long, happy and heathy life together. :)

  4. drelayaraja

    On October 24, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Very informative hare

  5. cathyjones

    On October 24, 2010 at 12:55 am

    ITs nice…..

  6. guraynsj

    On October 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Good information. Thanks!

  7. papaleng

    On October 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience about having llamas for pets.

  8. Jimmy Shilaho

    On October 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    A very good entry.

  9. Ruby Hawk

    On November 1, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Mark, it’s so nice that you live where you can keep these interesting pets.

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