Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
Today we are visiting a llama ranch to learn how to work with llamas.
Always move slowly around llamas. Avoid direct eye contact. Unless you are trying to make the llama move away from you, keep your hands down at your side or behind your back.
Llamas tend to be head shy. Touch them first in the middle of the back, and then work up their neck. Some folks will restrain a llama by holding both ears firmly.
Do not try to lead with a rope around the neck; if no halter is available then make one from a length of rope.
It may take several people to catch a llama. Stay calm. Hands out to the side as everyone gradually closes in on the llama and 'pushes' her towards the corner of the fence works best. No sudden moves, no loud noises. You can try humming llama style to calm her.
Do not tie llamas in the trailer, leave them loose within the trailer. We prefer to have certain trailers designated for llama transport, as they can be picky about entering a trailer previously occupied by horses. Pigs will not enter a trailer previously used by llamas. Do not try to co-transport a llama with another species.
Females are induced ovulators, so be sure you do not put them in a pen with an intact male!
Be aware llamas can kick, bite, spit, and stomp toes. If her ears are laid back, she is warning you - pay heed!
Llamas are susceptible to overheating; signs would be high temperature (101F is normal), panting, ears to side or droopy. You can carefully cool them by hosing their underbellies.
When checking for ID, be sure to look for ear tattoos as well as microchips.
Llamas can be tied on a high line if no stalls available.
Place a small amount of llama droppings in the spot you want llamas to use for potty.
Llamas do not much care for such snacks as carrots, and they may refuse to eat pellets or hay previously touched by other llamas.
Unless raised with dogs, llamas are very wary of canines and may even attack them first.
Feed grass hay, not alfalfa.
Very young, very old, and ill llamas are susceptible to chilling.
Keep intact males apart from each other, a llama fight is very violent.
Male llamas have very sharp "fighting" teeth that are usually removed or cut, but may have been left intact. Be careful! There are two uppers and one lower on each side. Females may have much smaller fighting teeth; if present, they are not removed.
A baby llama is called a cria. They may arrive early due to the stress of mom's evacuation. The new mom hums to her baby.