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Tip For Avoiding Llama Drama

Llamas are generally known for their docile nature. They’re easy to raise and train, and the wool they generate can be extremely profitable. They also require less area than horses and cattle. Given all of those benefits, it should be no surprise that many homesteaders and small farmers are interested in these endearing and adorable animals. However, llamas are not always friendly and cuddly. In this article, a Holly Springs, MS  vet examines llama drama and offers some advice on how to avoid it.

What is Berserk Llama Syndrome?

Berserk Llama Syndrome (BLS) affects camelids raised by humans. Despite its name, BLS isn’t restricted to llamas: alpacas are also susceptible.

Basically, the phrase refers to aggressive or nasty behavior in llamas. It is most commonly seen in unneutered males, however females do occasionally act up.

These behaviors may include the following:

  • Spitting
  • Screaming
  • Butting/throwing oneself at humans
  • Kicking
  • Lying down
  • Refusing to move
  • Bowel or bladder release
  • Biting (Note: Although Llamas rarely bite, it is not unheard of.)

Wait, What? Do Llamas Actually Go Berserk?

Technically, no. The disorder is known as Berserk Llama Syndrome; however, it is simply normal llama behavior. It is usually induced (often unintentionally) by poor handling and socialization. Llamas are commonly quite peaceful, unless they feel threatened.

Why Do Llamas Spit?

Consider this a protective mechanism. Camelids can and do spit at humans when they are agitated or threatened, but overall, they usually spit at each other. A female may spit at a male to fend off unwanted advances, for instance. This is most often done to settle llama drama and achieve herd supremacy. 

We probably don’t need to tell you this, but getting sprayed with llama spit is unpleasant for both you and the llama, as it involves stomach contents. 

Is Every Llama Aggressive?

Not at all. In fact, one of the reasons llamas are becoming so popular is that they are typically nice and docile.

However, we believe it is critical for individuals considering owning llamas to realize what might happen if they are not managed properly.

Are Llamas Friendlier Than Alpacas?

Generally, yes. Alpacas have not been domesticated for as long, hence they are more aloof. That stated, each animal is unique.

How Can I Avoid BLS?

The greatest option is to properly handle llamas from birth. If you have studs, getting them gelded can help by easing that hormonal urge to find and protect their mate. People often make the mistake of over-petting and hugging baby llamas, known as crias. We know they are almost unbelievably cute, and it can be difficult to avoid coddling them.

Herein lies the trap.

If you pet a baby llama too much, it will begin to think of you as another llama, although a strange-looking one. That seems charming, right? Unfortunately, this will present problems in the future, as your wooly friend will assume you are a member of the herd and should be treated as such. This is where kicking, yelling, and spitting can come into play.

In fact, some llama specialists believe that being too affectionate to a cria is harmfu. The reasoning here isl because it can lead to behaviors that eventually cause llamas to become dangerous and have to be put down. This can also be particularly confounding for somebody coming from the horse world, as it may be the polar opposite of what they’ve learned. Handling newborn foals is frequently considered excellent practice for our equine friends. Llamas are just wired differently.

How Much Should I Handle A Cria?

There’s definitely a sweet spot. You might need to bottle feed your baby llamas, for example. And you don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction by not touching or interacting with your llamas at all, since this will result in llamas that are unused to being handled.

Proper training is crucial. While llamas can be trained to ride and obey basic directions, these skills are optional. However, you must get them acclimated to being haltered, handled, having their feet touched, and entering catch pens or chutes. Even if your llamas will be treated like pets, this is more than just good petiquette. If your llama becomes ill or injured, you must be able to handle them securely.

If you’ve never maintained camels before, you should surely do some research on the subject. However, as you might expect, food and praise may go a long way here. It’s also important to learn about llama communication. For example, prolonged eye contact can agitate certain llamas. That includes both bodily language and vocalization, which in the llama world frequently entails humming. For further information, contact your Holly Springs, MS veterinarian.

How Do You Discipline a Llama?

As with other animals, you must be patient, consistent, and firm. Some llamas respond well to verbal reprimands, such as saying ‘No!’ in a loud, serious tone. A mild swat may work, but you should never strike an animal forcefully. You can also try using a water pistol, which may translate as ‘spitting’ and is, in practice, speaking the llama’s language.

Do Llamas Like Being Petted?

Actually, not very much. Llamas are prey animals in the wild, and they can be easily startled. A llama may not mind being petted by humans and might even get fairly attached to them. However, even if a llama likes you, they are unlikely to enjoy being touched on the face or head, and they dislike hugs. They may tolerate these things, but this does not necessarily translate into affection in llama language.

It’s crucial to note that llamas, like all animals, have a natural fight-or-flight drive. Given the options, they will nearly always choose flight, though they also occasionally freeze in place. If flight is not an option, attempting to compel it may result in an angry llama. This is usually where bad behavior occurs.

Do Llamas Become Lonely?

Yes, llamas are incredibly social animals who should always have at least one other llama as a companion. Of course, you will need to carefully select your pet’s pasture mates. Unneutered males can be very territorial, which might cause complications. And, while they don’t require much acreage, you want to avoid overcrowding them on a small farm. Ask your vet for specific care tips.

How Can I Keep My Llamas Happy?

In most cases, simply taking excellent care of them should suffice! As with other animals, great care starts with great nutrition. Llamas thrive on good pasture, although they can also consume grain or hay. A clean, pleasant barn or shelter is also essential, as is access to fresh water. Of course, your llamas will need frequent checkups from your Holly Springs, MS veterinarian, as well as regular shearing.

It’s also worth mentioning that, as previously said, is most commonly found in intact males. Having your studs gelded is normally suggested, unless you intend to breed.

Book an Appointment at Your Holly Springs, MS Animal Clinic

Do you have any queries about llama care? Are you looking for a quality vet in your area? Please contact us for any of your llama’s veterinary care needs. As yourHolly Springs, MS pet hospital, we are here to assist!

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