Llamas are mammals belonging to the camelid family, so they are related to camels and, more closely, to the vicuña, alpaca and particularly to the guanaco. Scientific evidence confirms that llamas ( Lama glama ) originated from the domestication of the guanaco ( Lama guanicoe ), which occurred in the central Andean zone. They are sociable and very particular animals. Unfortunately, as a product of domestication, they are used for cargo, consumption of their meat and wool; tallow is also obtained for candles.
Llamas are characterized by not having the typical hump of other camelids , but they are also large animals measuring around 1.2 m in height and length, while the weight can be between 130 and 155 kg. They have abundant, woolly and long fur, which is commonly smooth reddish-brown in color or with spots that can be yellow or white, cream or even darker shades.
In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, llamas have a peculiarity, and that is that they are animals that have the habit of spitting , an act that is not only performed by people, in which we consider it something really unpleasant. Ethology, that is, the study of animal behavior, and in the case of llamas, shows that both male and female llamas spit and can do so at members of their group, at other animals, and even at people. . It is curious, right?
Llamas are characterized as highly sociable animals. On the one hand, they establish groups that can be of about 20 individuals, made up of several females, their offspring, youngsters and a dominant male that hierarchizes the group. On the other hand, they are also quite given to getting close to people. Let’s remember that they are domesticated animals, so it is normal for them to develop with humans. Now why do the lamas spit? Let’s see it:
In the same way that they are sociable with each other and with people, they are quite territorial with their space, especially the male of the group does not tolerate the presence of another adult male, which he immediately considers as an invader and does not hesitate to confront and fight to maintain the control of the territory. Thus, the owner of the territory will seek to throw the invader to the ground, biting him and using his neck to surround the body of his opponent.
In addition to the above, the males spit on each other while fighting . The winner will be the one who stays upright, the other will show submission, lying on the ground, with the neck bent and the tail up.
If there are other animals, such as sheep, the llamas extend their bonds with them to the point of carrying out a kind of adoption, involving them in the group and defending them as if they were their own species. Llamas are very good watchmen and are quick to spot predators, such as wolves. For this reason, farmers like to have them in their groups of animals to warn of the presence of predators, emitting very particular squeals to indicate to the herd that there is danger.
Likewise, the spitting action of the llamas not only occurs between two confronting males, they also spit any other individual they consider to be a threat to them or the group. Launching a kind of projectile against the possible invader in a very agile and precise way is a form of warning.
In addition to the above, if the female llamas are not ready to mate, they spit out the male who tries to reproduce with them to run away nervously.
As a conclusion, we can point out that llamas spit as a form of warning and possible deterrence against strangers with whom they do not feel safe and against males with whom they do not wish to reproduce.
Llamas normally spit out common saliva , that fluid made up of enzymes and other components that plays an important role in digestion. Eventually, the saliva can have food residues if they have not been digested, or if you feel very nervous or stressed you can excrete with more force and expel these food residues. But there isn’t any particular poisonous or toxic compound in the llamas’ saliva.
If a lamas spits on you , nothing in particular will really happen , other than the unpleasantness you may feel, so it will be enough to clean your clothes or skin. Perhaps the most uncomfortable thing is if it spits directly into your eye because it is a more sensitive area and it would be advisable to wash it with water there, but it is not usual for it to cause a problem. What you should take into account is the reason that has led her to spit on you, since, as we have mentioned, they do it when they feel threatened, they want to defend their territory from another male or they do not want to reproduce. In this case, since they have spat on a person, we can rule out the last two reasons, which means that they may feel threatened by you and it is preferable that you stay away and not bother them .
Llamas are animals that get along well with people. As we know, they spit to deter or warn, so they are not really dangerous. In fact, in some health centers they are used as companion animals for people with certain pathologies such as anxiety, depression or stress because they generate a sense of well-being or calm, which indicates that they are good animals to be with human beings and not contrary.
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