The llama is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era.
A full-grown llama can reach a height of 1.7 – 1.8 m at the top of the head and can weigh between 130 – 200 kg. At birth, a baby llama called cria, can weigh between 9 – 14 kg. Llamas typically live for 15 to 25 years.
They are very social animals and live with other llamas as a herd. The wool produced by a llama is very soft and lanolin-free. Llamas are intelligent and can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. When using a pack, they can carry about 25 to 30% of their body weight for 8 to 13 km.
Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America about three million years ago during the Great American Interchange. By the end of the last ice age, camelids were extinct in North America.
The gestation period of a llama is 350 days. Dams (female llamas) do not lick off their babies, as they have an attached tongue that does not reach outside of the mouth more than half an inch. Rather, they will nuzzle and hum to their newborns.