Many people disbelieve when they hear that there are llamas in Brazil! Most people only know it from the zoo or from pictures they see of the Andes, but have never interacted with it or know much about it. However exotic it may seem, this animal is domestic, just like a horse or a sheep. It is even a very popular domestic animal in many countries around the world.
In our mission to bring more information about this amazing animal to the Brazilian population, today we bring you 8 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about llamas, their history, nature, and more.
1. The llama is a domestic animal
The llama was domesticated almost 5,000 years ago in the Andes region, making it one of the oldest domestic animals in the world. Along with alpacas, they are the only domestic animals native to the Americas. In Brazil, llamas are recognized as domestic animals by IBAMA, just like horses.
2. There is no such thing as a wild llama
You can’t find wild llamas anywhere; as domestic animals, they are bred by humans, usually for wool production or as beasts of burden. The llama’s closest wild relative is the guanaco, a camelid native to South America considered the ancestor of the llama.
3. Llamas are from the same family as the camel
Llamas and alpacas, along with their wild cousins – guanacos and vicuñas – are in the genetic family Camelidae. Other members of this family are the dromedaries and camels, both domestic animals found in the deserts of Africa and Asia.
4. Llamas are adapted to live in extreme climates
In the Andes, the native land of the llama, temperatures go to extremes, reaching 50 degrees in midday in summer and -20 degrees at dawn in winter. Because of this, they are extremely versatile and hardy animals, adapting easily to any climate.
5. There are llamas all over the world
In 2002, there were over 150,000 llamas in the United States alone! From the beaches of Florida to the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of Colorado, there are plenty of llamas in the USA! They can also be found in Europe, Australia, and of course in Brazil.
6. Llamas have a very low environmental impact
Because the llama has a soft foot like a dog’s, it does not compact the ground when it walks. She has no endemic disease and has 90% less environmental impact than horse. Therefore, by law she is allowed to enter fragile ecosystems where horses are forbidden, such as in National Parks in the USA.
7. Llamas are were bred to be pack animals
Until the arrival of the Europeans in the Americas, there were no horses here. So in the Andes, the llama was bred through genetic selection to carry weight (up to ~30kg) It was the key to the success of the Inca empire, as it made it possible to transport goods over long distances and lands that were difficult to access.
8. Llamas are docile and highly intelligent
For thousands of years, the llama has been a valuable companion and asset to South American humans, prized for its intelligence, weight-bearing ability, adaptability, and calm disposition. Today, it also serves as a therapy animal, emotional support, and of course, a friend!