Llamas have a native range all along the Andes mountains, but are not found in the wild. Lama glama can be found commercially throughout North America, Europe and Australia. An indispensable pack animal, herds of L. glama are maintained extensively by the native human populations in Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. ("Llama", 2004; Microsoft Encarta, 2004a)
The Andean highlands, especially the Altiplano of southeast Peru and western Bolivia, is the natural habitat of L. glama. These plateaus are covered with low growth, including various shrubs stunted trees and grasses. In the Altiplano region, the northern reaches are reasonably temperate and mountainous, whereas the south is drier, desert-like and inhospitable. Llamas are known to inhabit elevations no greater than 4,000 meters above sea level. ("Llama", 2004; Microsoft Encarta, 2004b; Microsoft Encarta, 2004a)
Llamas, like other camelids have long necks, limbs, rounded muzzles, protruding lower incisors, and a cleft upper lip. South American camelids, including llamas, alpacas, and guanacos do not have humps as do Old World camelids. Llamas are the largest member of this group. They have long shaggy pelage which varies greatly in color. A common coat pattern is reddish brown fur with mottled patches of white or yellow. ("Llama", 2004; Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; Parera, 2002; T., 2002; Vaughan, et al., 2000)
Llamas are fairly large mammals standing about 1.21 m at the shoulder and about 1.2 m in length from head to tail. Adult L. glama can weigh from 130 to 155 kg. Unlike some other Artiodactyla, L. glama has a two toed foot with a thick leathery pad on each foot’s sole. ("Llama", 2004; Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; T., 2002; Vaughan, et al., 2000)
Llamas have an unusually high content of hemoglobin in their bloodstream and oval shaped red blood corpuscles, both of which are adaptaions for surviving in an oxygen-poor, high altitude environment. Like other members of the Camelidae, L. glama has distinctive teeth. Adult llamas retain only one upper incisor, and the lower incisors clip vegetation against hardened gums. Other distinctive features about this species include the reduction of the premolars to 2/1 and a considerable diastema between the incisors and premolars. ("Llama", 2004; Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; T., 2002; Vaughan, et al., 2000)
Llamas are polygynous. Male llamas gather a harem of about 6 females into a designated territorial region and then aggressively drive away all other male llamas of breeding age who come into the area. This behavior is similar to that of Lama guanicoe: young males that are driven out of the breeding harem may congregate in herds until they are old enough to breed, at which time they will seek out existing harems to take over. Older and displaced males will live on their own. (Honolulu Zoo, 2004; Ingram and Krowka, 1999; Sorin, 2002)
Llamas are able to interbreed with other members of the genus Lama to produce fertile offspring. Although L. glama does not have an estrus cycle, this species tends to mate in late summer and early fall. After mating, female llamas undergo induced ovulation where the ovum is released about 24 to 36 hours after copulation. Gestation takes about 360 days, and the female llama gives birth to one cria (infant llama) almost every year. Crias are able to run about an hour after being born. Newborn llamas weigh about 10 kg and crias are nursed for four months. Sexual maturity occurs at the age of two years. (Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; T., 2002; Vaughan, et al., 2000)
Female llamas are repsonsible for the bulk of parental care. Female llamas protect and care for the cria until it is about one year old. Male llamas provide some indirect care for the young. They defend a territory to provide access to sufficient grazing resources for the females and younger members of their group. Males drive away 'foreign' llamas who compete for the same resources as his own herd, as well as predators and other males. When the crias are about a year old, the male drives them off. (Ingram and Krowka, 1999; Kadwell, et al., 2001)
Llamas are gregarious and highly social, living in groups of up to 20 individuals. Llama groups consist of about 6 breeding females and their offspring from the current year. This group is led by a male llama that aggressively defends his position by engaging in dominance fighting. This fighting consists of the male trying to wrestle the opponent (a usurping male) to the ground by biting his limbs and wrapping his own long neck around his opponent’s. Dominance is achieved when the opponent has been pushed to the ground and has properly submitted to the victor. Llama submission stance is lying sidways on the ground with the neck lowered, and the tail raised. (Honolulu Zoo, 2004; Lewerenz, 2001; Microsoft Encarta, 2004b; Reebs, 2002)
Llamas are also known to use communally shared locations (latrines) for feces, possibly as a territorial demarcation. Like other camelids, llamas are very vocal, using a variety of low and yammering calls. Llamas make especially distinct vocalizations in the presence of predators such as canids to warn other group members of danger. Llamas are aggressive towards predators and have been reported charging, kicking, biting, and spitting at those they deem a threat. (Honolulu Zoo, 2004; Lewerenz, 2001; Reebs, 2002; T., 2002)
Little is known of llamas in the wild, but their behavior in captivity resembles in many ways that of their wild cousins, L. guanicoe. Llamas are highly territorial and, although kept in captivity, individuals will still defend areas that they have laid claim too (be that outside a fenced area or not.) Generally llamas will claim anywhere in eyeshot for territory but will adopt a pasture where they are introduced. If sheep are present, most llamas will adopt them into the family group and defend them as if they were llamas themselves. Because of their aggression and protectiveness towards other animals, llamas are commonly used as as guard animals for sheep, goats, and horses. (Ingram and Krowka, 1999; Microsoft Encarta, 2004b; The Rolling Hills Zoo, 1991)
Llamas will vocalize to warn the herd of predators and to express vexation. Communal feces piles may serve as a specific herd's territorial demarcation, and may function through both visual and scent components. Tactile communication is important between rival males, as well as between mothers and their young. The presence of a submissive position indicates that llamas use body postures as visual signals of dominance. (Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; Ingram and Krowka, 1999; Lewerenz, 2001)
Llamas browse on low shrubs, lichens, and mountain vegetation. Llamas make use of native shrubs and grasses including Parastrephia sp., Baccharis sp. (shrubs) as well as Munroa sp., Eragrostis sp., and Triseobromus sp. (grasses). Llamas tend to live in very dry climates and get most of the moisture from their food. Camelids consume about 2 to 3 gallons of water, and 1.8% of their body weight in dry food (grass, hay) per day. Llamas have three stomachs and are ruminants. When kept as domestic animals llamas adapt well to the same diet as sheep and goats. (Anderson, 2002; The Rolling Hills Zoo, 1991; Vaughan, et al., 2000)
Most predation on llamas is by small canids, including coyotes, although pumas and humans were the greatest exploiters of llama populations before the species underwent geographic redistribution throughout the world. ("Llama", 2004; Stamberg and Wilson, 1997)
Llamas are about the ecological equivalant of a large deer. They browse on low vegetation and their padded foot does less damage to the grazing area than the hooves of other livestock. (Stamberg and Wilson, 1997)
Llamas are domesticated animals, and so are inherently important to human economies. The thick, coarse wool of llamas is valuable. These animals are sheared every two years, yielding about 3 kg of fleece. Farmers have used L. glama to curb predation of sheep by canids. By incorporating a few llamas into their sheep or goat flocks, studies indicate that predation drops sharply. Llamas have also been used as golf caddies and as farmyard pets. Historically llamas were used to haul loads over the Andean mountains because of their ability to carry burdens in excess of 60 kg for up to 30 km per day. ("Llama", 2004; Dias de Avila Pires, 2004; Honolulu Zoo, 2004; Lewerenz, 2001)
There are no reported negative effects on human economies created by llamas.
Llamas are not endangered and are in fact quite widespread today. There are nearly 3 million individuals worldwide with nearly 70% of the population located in Bolivia. (Parera, 2002)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Charles Portman (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
ovulation is stimulated by the act of copulation (does not occur spontaneously)
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
parental care is carried out by males
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
breeding takes place throughout the year
young are relatively well-developed when born
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