Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Llama in Your Living Room?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Llama in Your Living Room?

Article excerpt

THE first thing you might want to know about llamas is that there is no such thing as a wild one. So just in case you were thinking of inviting one of these strange and elegant animals in through your front door, you have no need to be worried. A llama would stroll quietly down your hall and sit down carefully next to your fire. And you can be quite sure it would have no interest in eating you.

Llamas prefer leaves and grass for dinner. But it's true that some of them also like chocolate and newspapers. So if you think there is good chance of a llama visit, it might be best to keep M&Ms and the New York Times stored safely on a very high shelf. Llamas have long necks. They have good up-reach. They have special, unusually divided upper lips that are rather clever at discovering and grabbing edible things that appeal to them.

If you do not live in the high mountains of South America - in countries like Peru or Bolivia - you are more likely to come across such domesticated animals as German shepherds or Siamese cats than real live llamas. Horses and goats are much more common in most of the world.

Large numbers of llamas live in the Andes, a high mountain range in South America. Llamas like to be in herds. For hundreds of years, and maybe even thousands, they have been used as pack animals, or "beasts of burden," up there in the Andean peaks, somewhere between 11,000 and 17,000 feet above sea level. They are also valued for their meat, wool, leather, tallow (for candles), and hair. They even provide fuel in the form of dried dung!

Llamas are as tame as cows, and some are much tamer. They like humans to make friends with them. It is not at all unknown for llamas to live happily indoors when people who want a "different" kind of pet decide to be llama owners. They take to the idea of house training quite easily. But they are larger than goats in size, so a big house might be a good idea. …

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