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What Do Llamas Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Ashley Bates

You’ve probably been in your vehicle cruising the countryside, and someone shouts out, “Look at that thing!” Everyone ogles and awes over the funny-looking fluffy, long-necked creature in the field.

Llamas are captivating farm animals that graze on lush pasture grasses. If you don’t already know, these goofy guys are top-notch farm guardians, and they defend themselves well in the wild. But what do they actually eat? We have that information and more!

divider-llamaWhat Are Llamas?

Scientific Name Llama glama
Origin South America
Diet Herbivore
Lifespan 15-20 years

Llamas are wooly pack animals that are native to South America. Usually, in the wild, llamas remain in groups between 20 and 100 per herd.

Generally speaking, there is a singular male with multiple females. And then they all raise their offspring together, which then branch off into their own packs.

Natural Habitat

Llama
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

Llamas live in the Andes Mountains in South America. Typically, you will find them grazing on lush mountain foliage in Peru and Bolivia. They can easily adapt to mountain terrain, as their bodies are built for harsh weather.

Llamas can withstand elevations as high as 13,000 feet. Although, they have adapted to many different environments since they were dispersed in captivity.

Diet

Llamas are strictly herbivorous, which means they thrive on nutrient-rich grasses for survival. Their teeth are shaped as all herd animals—flat and equal-length, making their mouths perfect for shredding plant material.

Llamas in their natural state often browse grasslands and mountain terrain in search of delicious greens. Some llama favorites include:

  • Grasses
  • Lichens
  • Shrubs
  • Flowering plants
  • Some trees

Social Structures

In nature, llamas live in herds for protection and socialization. They rely on each other and stick together to ward off predators and keep each member safe.

Predatory Concerns

coyote in the wild
Image Credit: rauschenberger, Pixabay

Even though llamas might be fantastic at warding off predators, they still face some issues in the wild. Since they are herd animals, it both helps and hurts their survival chances.

Once a predator catches wind of the flock, it can be easy to pick off the llamas one by one. However, these large hooved creatures aren’t afraid to put a prowling hunter in their place.

Some natural predators to llamas include:

Llamas in Captivity

Farm life is a big change of pace for llamas. Even though these guys are pretty leisurely about their daily lives, many farmers give them watchful duties to protect other less capable farm animals in the pasture.

Living Conditions

llamas grazzing
Image Credit: rachelsk8r, Pixabay

Llamas usually graze with other animals on the farm. They are quite compatible with other field mates outside of their species but love having another llama friend around, too.

Many llamas prefer open access to the outdoors, but you should also provide shelter for inclement weather.

Farming Purpose

Many farmers will add a singular llama or multiple llamas to their fields to protect their existing livestock. Llamas don’t take any funny business from local predators. Having a llama in your field will ensure that all of your precious livestock stays safe when you can’t be there to watch.

Diet

One remarkable thing about having llamas in your field is that they are natural foragers who pretty much feed themselves. They spend their time out in the pastures snacking on all of the grasses and shrubs. However, many farmers supplement their diets with alfalfa hay.

Health Concerns

Llama lying in grass
Image Credit: Klaus Schwarzfischer, Pixabay

Just like any other animal, llamas also can run into certain health conditions. While they’re generally hardy and healthy, be aware of the following conditions:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral diseases
  • Mycoplasma infection
  • Fungal infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Respiratory illness
  • Skin disease

Wild vs. Domestic Llama Dietary Comparison

When comparing the domestic versus wild diet of a llama, you won’t find much difference. One thing to keep in mind is that many plants that are native to llamas in their natural habitat won’t be available in many different areas of the world.

But the concept is the same. Llamas will naturally forage for their food in the fields requiring very little help from any outside source.

Fun Facts About Llamas

llamas in field
Image Credit: trygd, Pixabay

Long’s are pretty darn interesting. Let’s take a look at some exciting things you might not know.

  • Llamas are like police officers: Llamas don’t take any flack from anybody that thinks they’re going to come and eat someone on their watch. They patrol the fields in search of local threats and they are not afraid to charge that the situation permits.
  • Llamas are movie stars and clothing inspirations: Llamas are funny, cute-looking little creatures. They have debuted in feature films such as Llamas with Hats and The Emperor’s New Groove. Plus, you can find them on many clothing items these days. It seems llamas are quite trendy.
  • Llamas are related to camels: Once you realize that llamas are related to camels, it might not surprise you much. They are similar in body structure and facial shape. Of course, camels are much larger than llamas with sizable humps on their backs. Camels have this characteristic to store water since they live in scorching areas. Llamas don’t have the same need, and therefore they are shaped differently.
  • Llamas don’t mind sharing how they feel: Llamas aren’t quiet about how they feel. They have been known to spit or charge when they feel irritated or threatened.

divider-llamaFinal Thoughts

So, now you know that llamas in the wild eat a lot like their domesticated cousins. There isn’t much difference other than the types of plants available to them in the area that they live.

However, many farmers supplement with alfalfa hay to make sure that the llama is getting the right amount of nutrition they need.


Featured Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.