Llama Question and Answer Page heading Ambassador drawing

This page discusses children’s llama books, children’s llama songs,
alfalfa, goats, horses, coyotes ticks, fleas, and more.

(Updated December 15, 2002)

List of questions:

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Children’s books

Q. Are there any good llama books for children?

A. There are quite a number of good books the following three are some of our favourites. Some of these books may be ordered from Amazon.com directly from this page by clicking on the titles.

These and a selection of other recommended llama books can be found on our Llama Book Page.

Is Your Mama a Llama?
by Deborah Guarino

This is a great book to read to small children as it has wonderful illustrations and is written in rhyme.

If I Was a Llama . . .
by Ann Madison

This is a cute rhyming book for young children
with colourful illustrations by the author.
Available from LRL Ventures, P.O. Box 247, Cisco, Texas 76437

The Llama’s Secret, a Peruvian Legend
by Argentina Palacios

This book is for young children either to have read to them
or to read by themselves. It is a flood story which sort of echoes
the story of Noah and the Ark.

Stop Spitting at Your Brother!
Life Lessons of a Rocky Mountain Llama
by Diane White-Crane as told to her by Dudley the Llama

This book, illustrated by the author, is written to entertain children as well as adults and is a series of adventures written from Dudley the Llama’s viewpoint.

My favourite chapter is “Lost in the Wilderness” where someone leave a gate unlatched and Dudley convinces his brother Sammy to go exploring. They wander far enough to get totally lost and have all sorts of scary adventures.

Children’s songs

Q. Are there any llama songs for children?

A. Diane White-Crane, the author of “Stop Spitting at Your Brother” has a collection of twelve songs that she has written about llamas available on tape or CD.

Songs for Llama Lovers (young and old)

Diane White-Crane, The Llama Lady, is based in Colorado and does presentations for children all over the country. She plays her guitar and sings songs, tells jokes, and using llama puppets teaches about sibling rivalry, tolerance, respect, caring and dealing with things such as bullying.

If you would like to purchase the tape or CD you can contact her at LlamaladyDiane@msn.com and, as well, you could order the book this way if you would like an autographed copy.

To give you an idea of what the songs are like, here is a clip from Oh, you gotta love a llama (311k). “Oh, you gotta love a llama, ’cause llamas can be fun . . .”

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Should I feed them alfalfa?

Q. I have recently purchased a llama and have heard they should not eat alfalfa hay. Is this true and will it hurt them?

A. It won’t hurt them at all, in fact we feed it to some of ours whenever we want to put some weight on them and to the youngsters that we would like to give a bit of a boost to. We don’t usually feed alfalfa in the summer though when there is lots of grazing.

You wouldn’t want to just feed alfalfa though as it is so rich that you could end up with a too fat llama. Their stomachs are designed to efficiently process the poor grasses of the Andean highlands and they get a lot of nutrition out of ordinary hay.

For more information see:

Llamas and goats

Q. Hi, I am a new llama owner. A friend has given us two llamas because he could not keep them anymore. They are friendly and good natured with people. We are getting some young goats for packing. Do you know if llamas are usually goat friendly or not. I would really appreciate any info or advice you may have before we have these animals brought out to our place.

A. The llamas will get along just fine with the goats. They (or one) will probably become protective of them.

The goats will more than likely be nervous of the llamas at first. It might be best to introduce them slowly. If they were in adjoining fields for a couple of days they would get used to each other without anyone being scared or feeling threatened.

Eventually you could probably pack with the goats and llamas together. In the photo on the right, our friend Marie Seabrook now brings her goat along on our weekly hikes and the llamas, dogs and goat get along just fine.

Q. I was just wondering why our llama started acting bad to the goats. We always heard that they were good with goats and when we first put him in there they got along well. As time went by he started trying to bite their legs. So we put him out with our cows and they did not like each other at all. Do you have an answer for me?

A. I may have an answer. Llamas have an inborn need to show dominance in a herd. Male llamas will wrestle by pressing on each other’s neck and the other thing they do is to try to make the other llama lie down. The winner is the dominant one. While they are wrestling, to make the other “kush” or lie down, they will bite at the front knees. This will cause the the bitee to fold his front legs and tuck them under his body. When they get a little older and more serious about fighting they will go for the opponent’s testicles.

Your goats don’t know this game, but they are probably just at the right height to butt the llama on his knees. They may not be doing this deliberately but it is going to happen occasionally just by accident.

Your llama is reacting perfectly normally and accepts this as a challenge to wrestle and he will then bite at the goat’s front knees. He is not trying to to be mean to the goats, but in his mind, he is being challenged.

You would probably be safe to put him back with the goats as he has probably taken over the job of guarding them and is probably unhappy at being separated from them. If you watch him with them, you will probably notice that if this happens again, the goats will have unknowingly provoked it.

Llama and new horse

Q. I have a situation which is getting worse that I would love some input on. I have a three-year-old ungelded male. He has lived the last two years with my friend’s female horse who died last year. He was very lonely after that time and I visited with him often to ease his loneliness. We fell in love! We then got a 28-year-old Arabian gelded male and they really had no problems with each other. I am able to walk in the pasture and he will walk to the gate and put his head over for me to halter him. I have been working with him on getting used to being touched and brushed. Another friend moved the Arabian to her house and he was alone for a short time which I tried to spend time with him every day so he wouldn’t be lonely. We recently got a 17-year-old gelded Arabian male. This horse is steady, calm and not afraid of anything but is having to be trained out of some bad habits as he has been in a pasture alone for seven years. My llama has now started spitting at him regularly which he had NEVER done before. He goes right up to him for no reason and invades his space while eating, or just standing and then spits.

A. Who knows why, but llamas will take a dislike to another llama or other animal sometimes. We have a very calm young male who is about three or four now and he has taken a serious dislike to an elderly gelding in the next field. He will attack him whenever he gets the chance and I finally had to strengthen the fence and put barriers up. In fact, I now have a double fence between them.

This is a tough age for a male as their hormones start raging and they think that every other animal either should be bred or beaten up.

Introduce your llamas to horses slowly and carefully.
Horses sometimes quite quite excited when meeting a llama for the first time.

Follow-up Q. He does not realize that this horse could kick him and do serious harm. He also runs at him at jumps the horses hind end. He has started doing this consistently when someone is returning the horse to the pasture on a lead line. They open the horse, lead him in and turn around to close the gate and my llama runs through the pasture to attack him while he is still on the lead line. This is a very dangerous situation for all involved.

A. You are correct about it being dangerous. They are pretty smart and they know when the other animal is on a lead rope that they can’t get away and that is the best time to attack them. Llamas seem to know this and will wait for their chance. We have seen it in our herd.

Follow-up Q. Today, I got in front of him and threw buckets of water at him to get him away from the horse.

I realize he has hormones going on but I believe he should still be trainable in any situation. I love him very much and would like to somehow return to the playful and kind relationship we had. His attitude has gotten a bit more aggressive with me while he is out on the lead line. He still listens but he is also a lot more aggressive and testy.

A. Try using a hose instead of a bucket. You don’t have to get so close. If you have a trigger on it, you can turn it on and off, but you don’t want to get into an aggressive situation and have him see you as a rival.

I think that your best option right now is to have him gelded as soon as possible. It is too dangerous if he is getting aggressive with you. Even after gelding, it may take a few months for him to settle down, but if he hasn’t done any breeding, hopefully he should settle down fairly soon. Your vet should be able to give some shots to help the hormone situation.

In the meantime you will have to be firm with him, not letting him invade your space. Whatever you do, do not let him get pushy with you. He will keep testing and pushing as far as he can and if he can get away with something, he will go a little further the next time.

Sometimes they will get in front of you deliberately and make you go around. This is the kind of testing or pushy behaviour that you want to discourage.

Llamas need company and the first horse dying and the second horse leaving could have affected him in some way. If you were to get another male llama you might have the same type of aggressive behaviour while he is whole, but I wouldn’t expect it if you got him a companion after gelding. It might be interesting to borrow one to see what the reaction is.

Obviously he has taken a dislike to the current horse so the only solution right now is to keep them separated at least while the horse is being led around. Can the llama be put it a stall or separate field while someone is working with the horse? Otherwise, eventually the horse is going to defend himself and kick the llama and that can lead to a broken leg.

Llamas and coyotes

Q. What would a llama do if confonted by a coyote?

A. When a llama is guarding sheep, it will usually station itself between the herd and the location where a coyote may be hiding. If it sees a coyote, the llama will likely put its head down and charge towards the coyote. If the coyote doesn’t run, the llama will probably then slash at it with his front feet.

We have a lot of coyotes in our area and the llamas don’t even bother alarm calling any more. The coyotes will sometimes wander through the fields and the llamas will watch them pretty carefully. Recently however, there were a couple of patches of llama fibre in the moms and babies field as if something was chewing at the sides of some of the youngsters. We suspected that it might have been some local dogs that we have occasionally see around, so were watching extra carefully. The next day there was a patch in Ricardo’s field which is at the far corner of the farm, next to the moms and babies. We searched all around and couldn’t find any other signs and there were no signs of injuries on any of the llamas.

The next morning Jane was taking hay out to Ricardo. His shelter is on the fence line and is divided into two halves, sharing it with the moms and babies. The moms and babies are moved out of that field at night and moved in closer to the barn. When Jane put hay over the fence into the mom’s shelter a young coyote staggered out. He had made himself a little nest there as there were no llamas in that field. He was limping and stumbling and looked as if he was nearly dead.

By the time Jane came and got me from the front barn he had disappeared and we could find no trace of him. While we were looking for him however, we found another coyote in Ricardo’s shelter. It was quite dead.

It appears that these two young coyotes were bothering the llamas and took on Ricardo who killed one and badly injured the other.

We found out later that the injured coyote had gone into the neighbour’s horse barn and curled up in a stall where it died.

Llamas and ticks

Q. Do llamas get ticks?

A. Yes, llamas can get ticks and it can be a very serious problem. In the early spring in some areas, ticks appear and they can paralyse a llama. If the llama is down, either kushed or flat out, and you suspect that the problem might be a tick, it is imperative that you search for the tick(s) immediately. The llama should be sheared as the ticks are about the size of a raisin and hard to find. If the tick is not found and removed, the llama will die.

Once the tick is removed, the llama will recover, but it may take twenty-four to thirty-six hours. It will be a while before the llama will eat or drink so you should make sure that you carefully syringe some water into its mouth to keep it hydrated.

We do not offer veterinary advice on this site but in this case we will pass on a note from a friend that just had two llamas down with three ticks each. “Our vet advised me that Ivomec will affect only the tick sucking blood (and possibly causing the paralysis) so it is a good idea to vaccinate with Ivomec if the animal is down and you are not 100% sure you've gotten the culprit. 1cc per 50kg or 120 lbs body weight — Otherwise Ivomec will not prevent future tick problems. He advised using a powder called “Dominion” — or any powder with the active ingredient carborill (not sure of the spelling) to deter ticks.”

Fleas and lice

Q. Do llamas get fleas?

A. We have never seen fleas on a llama, even though the dogs and cats have had plenty of fleas at certain times.

One thing that llamas can get though is lice. They are very small and if you part the fibre and look closely you might see them crawling around. They look a bit like very small grains of rice with feet. Lice are easily controlled by dusting with lice powder. They seem to attack sick or run-down animals and can create a lot of added stress on the animal’s body.


Q. how do you go about training the llama to “kush” or lie down?

A. First of all, ask yourself “Why do you want him to kush?”

Kushing is a resting position, but it is also a submissive position. When a couple of males fight or wrestle the one who is forced to kush is the loser. If you want to show your llama that you are the boss, you can make him kush. Back when we got our first two males (1981) there wasn’t much information available about training llamas and the first llamas we purchased had never had a halter on. In fact, the owner had never even seen a llama halter, so we had a bit of a circus on our hands.

The way you trained them in those days was to make them kush. Training them that way certainly made for well-behaved llamas but no one seems to do that any more.

To make a llama kush you pull the head down with the lead rope. You don’t have to pull the head all the way down, but you need pressure on the rope to get the neck down somewhat. The next step is to simulate biting on the knees with your other hand. Just “bite” at the knee with your thumb and fingers. Your llama will probably lift the foot on the leg you are touching and tuck it back. Then touch the other knee.

Eventually you will get him to kneel down on his front legs. His butt will still be in the air and a hand pushing down on the back will make him kush. This is quite a difficult process with a full-grown male, but with younger ones it will work quite easily. as you are doing this, give a verbal command as well such as “down” or “kush”.

You have to remember that you are making him submissive which goes against the grain. Don’t get into a big fight with him over this, it doesn’t have to be done all in one session. If it takes a week or so of working with him, that is just fine.

After a while you should be able to get them to kush by just giving the verbal command, maybe with a slight tug down on the lead rope.

Now the downside. One of the things you are sometimes asked to do in a performance class is to lift up the llama’s foot so you can examine the pad. (This is a useful thing if you are packing and an animal starts limping.) The llamas that we have trained this way will kush as soon as you touch their foot and consequently lose points.

Prime Thyme, the cria in this photo is only a day or so old and just naturally assumes the kushed position. The adults will often lie like this and calmly chew their cuds. Because they lie like this, it makes them easy to transport in a van or a pick-up truck.

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Index to the Question and Answer Pages

Page One Page Two Page Three
Are there different kinds of llamas? What are their feet like? Can you eat them?
Where do llamas come from? Do they spit? What is their temperament?
Are they expensive? Could I have one as a pet? Are they good with children?
What do llamas eat? What can you do with them? What kind of fencing do they need?
What kind of shelter do they need? Can you ride them? How do you transport them?
What kind of sounds do they make? Are they hard to train? When do they have their babies?
How big do they get? Are there any unpleasant odors? Do llamas need help when birthing?
Do they bite? What are their natural enemies? What do llama crias look like?
Do llamas lose their baby teeth? What do you call a baby llama? How much should my cria weigh?

Page Four Page Five Page Six
Cria questions, nursing, cria coats How do you shear llamas? Breeding questions
Is baby “poop”yellow? How long do llamas live? Eating bark
Llama feeding and treats Can llamas be used for therapy? Scientific classification
Behaviour questions How do I earn my llama’s trust? Birthing and dog questions
Llama gaits Handling young llamas Training commands
Llamas with horses, halters, gelding Will they eat out of my hand? How much space do they need?
How do I trim toenails? Why is my llama standoffish? Barbed wire and electric fences
Black colour Should we groom our youngsters? What is their spit like?
Can I have intact males together? What about leading youngsters around? Llama “poop”
Deadly nightshade Problem with choking Llamas and deep snow

Page Seven Page Eight (Present Page) Page Nine
Shedding wool Children’s llama books Llamas as sheep guards
Can llamas eat apples? Where can I find llama songs for children? Grooming brushes
Fighting with other animals Can llamas be fed alfalfa? How much can they carry?
Protecting other llamas Llamas and goats Do llamas swim?
Skittish llama and haltering Llama and new horse What colour are llamas?
Mouth abscess Llamas and coyotes What colour is llama milk?
Why is my llama afraid of me? Do llamas get ticks? Are there shows about llamas?
Intact males with other llamas Do llamas get fleas? Do they tolerate new dogs?
Can I have a cria with an intact male? Getting a llama to kush What is the best age to buy a llama?

Page Ten Page Eleven Page Twelve
Can they eat corn? Llamas vs alpacas How is “llama” pronounced?
Pooping in the barn Blue-eyed llamas When do you wean babies?
Llamas and cats How fast can a llama run? How tall do they get?
Llamas and freezing weather How do you estimate their age? What does clucking mean?
How far can they go? Llamas crossed with emus??? Llamas and heavy loads
Spitting llama Llamas eating pine trees Halter fitting
Touching young llamas Males and females together? Do llamas guard poultry?
Llama kisses How do you clean llama wool? What do you call a group of llamas?
What do you call a female llama? Will llamas eat blackberries? Llama anatomy

Page Thirteen Page Fourteen Page Fifteen
How are llamas identified? Cooling off llamas Breeding related llamas
Picketing llamas at night while hiking Breeding for spring or fall birthing Attacking a haltered llama
Will llamas avoid poisonous plants? Female won’t spit at the male Llamas eating fences
Moving a pregnant llama Stopping spitting behaviour Spotting a sick llama
I can’t get near my new cria How did the llama get its name? Feeding a greedy llama
My baby llama cries Telling genders apart My llama attacked me
Can I put the male with new baby? Washing a llama
Can males share a pasture with females? Poisoning treatment
Are people allergic to llamas? Fun questions we have received

Who made these pages?

Mount Lehman Llamas Farm Page