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  • Inca Indians about 5000 years ago in Peru tamed and domesticated a llama – enduring and strong animal that resembles a camel. The Incas were not familiar with a wheel, so they needed a beast of burden, helping to transport heavy loads through the rugged paths of Andes. Incas used the only llama bucks for carriage delivery, females exclusively cared after the reproduction, they were not milk out, not eaten and not sacrificed.

    Llama is a cloven-hoofed mammal of suborder Tylopoda, belongs to camelids family. This animal really resembles camels. They have the same canine incisors at the top of the jaw, calloused pads – little smaller – are on the sole of cloven hooves, but llamas have no hump. The length of their body is 120-200 cm, of a tail – 20-25 cm, height at the withers is 120 cm, usual weight – 75-80 kg. The neck is slim, head is small, ears are high and pointed. Thanks to quivering lashes, llama has a rather cute look. Llama’s wool protects it from chilling mountain winds, it is long, soft and very warm. Hair colors diverse from white to black and brown.

    There are 4 species of camelids in South America. Two of them, a llama and alpaca are domesticated, two others – guanaco and vicuna are the wild. Humans used llama mainly as a beast of burden and alpacas are valued for their long hair. These animals are used to produce soft and warm clothes, blankets and rugs. All of them inhabit the highlands at the altitude of 3500 m in the Andes of South America. It possible to meet them in the wild world at the territory of Bolivia, Chile and Peru, but it’s more common to see these animals in zoos.

    Llama is a herbivorous animal, in the summer it eats grass, young leaves, shrubs and lichens, preferring succulent vegetation, which contains a lot of water, vitamins and minerals, and in the winter llama eats hay and grain. This animal takes with a pleasure from the humans’ hands carrots, apples, bread, broccoli and orange peel.

    Llama has an interesting personality, it is rather friendly, smart and curious. But the same time it can be stubborn if overloaded (more than 50 kg), it sits on the ground and will not go anyway, neither the carrot no the stick does not help, till the load is not removed the animal will not budge. In addition, if to tease llama, it can spit at the face of the offender its gum (the gum is undigested food that the animal chews, swallows, and then returns back to the mouth). But if Lama is treated politely, it can touch its nose to the man’s face, and it’s very pleasantly to stroke the animal. Even such a therapeutic psychological trend that’s called “llamaterapiya” exists.

    There is rather hard competition among llama bucks into a family. Mature llamas have pretty strong teeth, 2 canines above and 4 below, animals use canines to bite and to break the skins of their competitors during a fight. In South America due to strong teeth, llamas are used as a guard for sheep flocks to defense them from coyotes and other predators; llamas, as a social animal, believe sheep their own offspring.

    Llamas’ sexual maturity comes at the age of 3 years. The breeding season lasts from August to February. Pregnancy lasts for 11 months, usually one calf is born. A calf is ready to stand up in a couple hours after his birth. Milk feeding lasts about 4 months. Llamas’ length of life is 20 years, and having good conditions, they can live up to 30.

    The main llama’s enemy is catamountain (mountain lion, cougar), it’s one of the largest predators in South America. It sneaks up to his victim behind and unexpectedly jumps on its back, breaking the victim’s neck. Besides them wild cats jaguarundi and Patagonian gray foxes hunt on llamas.

    Llamas do not belong to endangered species, they are actively breeding in rural farms and zoos In spite of it, wild llamas of Chile and Peru are under the state protection and are defended by the law.