Natural Wild Life | Llama | The llama (Lama glama) is a South American camelid, widely used as a pack and meat animal by Andean cultures since pre-hispanic times. The llama is thought to have originated in North America around 40 million years ago and the llama is believed to have then migrated to South America and Asia around 3 million years ago, before the American and Asian continents finally separated at Alaska. The llama is thought to have become extinct from North America during the ice age. Today the llama is most commonly found in the Andes mountain region of South America where the llama was kept as a pack animal by the ancient Inca people. Llamas are used for meat, wool, skin and for transporting heavy loads (a little like donkeys).
The llama is thought to have evolved from the old world camel-like animals that inhabited the regions that is today the Middle East. Although the llama has many similarities to the camel, the most noticeable difference between the llama and the camel is that the llama does not have a hump on its back. Llamas are very sociable animals and enjoy being with other llamas in a herd. The llama is also believed to be a particularly intelligent animal as llamas are commonly taught tasks which the llama picks up with only a few repetitions of the task.
Female llamas give birth to baby llamas (known as crias) standing up. The gestation period for a llama is between 11 and 12 months and the birth of the cria is usually over within half an hour. Baby llamas are generally standing up and attempting to walk within an hour of birth. Llama mating takes place throughout the year and baby llamas tend to be born in the morning when the weather is warm. This is believed to increase the fertility rate of the cria.
The llama is a herbivore and gets most of its nutrition from grass, leaves and young shoots. Llamas also do not have the same water retaining properties of their camel cousins, meaning that the llama must drink more often and llamas therefore prefer to be close to water.