Llamas The Animal

The llama ( / ˈ l ɑː m ə / ; Spanish:  [ˈʝama] locally:  [ˈʎama] or [ˈʒama] ) ( Lama glama ) is a domesticated South American camelid , widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era .

These sturdy creatures are domestic animals used by the peoples of the Andes Mountains. (Their wild relatives are guanacos and vicuñas). Native peoples have used llamas as pack animals for centuries. Typically, they are saddled with loads of 50 to 75 pounds. Under such weight they can cover up to 20 miles in a single day. Pack trains of llamas, which can include several hundred animals, move large amounts of goods over even the very rough terrain of the Andes.

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Used as pack animals by the Incas, they are still in use today as beasts of burden. They can carry 25-30% of theirown body weight for several miles. View the video to learn more about these social creatures.

The "lama" family consists of llamas and alpacas, which are domesticated, and guanacos and vicunas, which are found in herds in the wilds of South America. Prehistoric fossils suggest they originated in North America, then migrated to their native lands of Bolivia, Chile and Peru, where they've been domesticated for about 4,000 years. They are modified ruminants called crias (Spanish for baby alpaca) and grow to an average of 300 to 400 pounds.

South American Camelidae are grouped into four species: Vicuna, Guanaco, Llama, and Alpaca. The first two are protected wild species, while the later two species have been domesticated for thousands of years. Llamas and alpacas can succussfully interbreed, and the offspring are called "huarizo".