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Llama Walk FAQ

Llama Walk FAQ 2017-03-27T20:04:44+00:00

Learn more about llamas and what happens during a llama walk!

Llama Walk Kossak Degroot
Llamas, alpacas, guanaco and vicuna are all camelids. The desert camels and other camelids all are descendant from an extinct ancestor that originated in North America.
No. They just have lower incisors and a hard palette to snip grass off with. They have molars to chew. Males have fighting teeth but the llamas have had them cut.
Yes, but just at each other. It’s a hierarchy thing, often means don’t take my food, that’s my fan or shade (in the summer) or no I don’t want to have sex!

They might, so it’s best not to walk too close right behind any large animal. Their peripheral vision is very good, but they do have a small blind spot behind them. They might kick if surprised.

Not really. But, they are willing companions. Llamas have been called “silent brothers” in South America. They have been domesticated and have been carrying people’s stuff for thousands of years. Once you make the effort to earn their trust, they will do most anything you ask.

I’ll answer your questions, review safety and any other concerns before we set out.

When we first greet the llamas, keep your hands in your pockets or behind your back. Look slightly down at your feet at first, not eye to eye, which to them is a threatening posture.

We move, talk and interact slowly and calmly. We are making them feel safe. If we scare them, we lose trust and have to win it back.

Llamas greet each other by sniffing each other’s breath. Once you have approached or been approached by a llama, blow out softly from your nose or mouth. Your llama may blow back gently with his breath. This is a very good trust building exchange. He may then gently touch noses with you as sort of an Eskimo kiss. It tickles.

Stay calm, remember they don’t bite. You will eventually be able to pet them.

During this greeting, I introduce each llama by name, age, and personality. This is where you choose your partner or they choose you. I am observing the whole time and may make or suggest the matches instead.

The halter must fit up close to their eyes as they have very little bone or cartilage on their noses. If it fits improperly, they will feel that they might suffocate. For the same reason, they don’t like to be petted on the nose. Most like to be scratched or petted on the side of their neck or under their chin.

After our visitors are paired up, I review walking on a lead and around obstacles, what words they understand, and what to do if you accidentally let go of your lead.

We may do a little brushing or grooming so the llama can get used to the walker’s energy, sound of their voice, scent and feel of their touch. Then we do trial walks around some cones inside the pasture fence.

Now I decide if our visitors are ready to leave the fenced area to go for walk in the woods. This is at my discretion.

We consider our time frame, the weather and the fitness of our visitors before choosing the length of the walk. The walks can range from 45 minutes to about 2.5 hours. See the trail map.

For most walks, we will put a pack on one or two llamas to carry water bottles, snacks, extra gear or clothing. Everything we carry in we must carry out. Often we bring garbage bags to pick up litter and recyclables.

If there is a naturalist or birder among us, they may point out things along the way.

I find just walking silently and getting to know your llama is better than anything.

Llamas usually share a manure pile. If one goes, most likely others will join in. There is one spot as we enter the woods which they often use on our way out, then rarely go again. I keep a rake near there to brush it off the path. Llama beans are an awesome soil amendment.

We pull over for horseback riders and make the llamas look away. Some horses have not seen a llama before and may spook.

I am on the lookout for dogs off leash and hail their owner to leash or hold them while we pass. Most dogs are no problem. But dogs look like predators to a llama. Dogs like to do that downward dog “Let’s Play” posture which some llamas just don’t appreciate.

We pull over for vehicles. There are some dirt roads in the Colliers Mill WMA. Drivers are usually slow and very considerate.

Sometimes we have to walk over or around a fallen tree or around a big mud puddle. That’s not really a problem.

Loose llama! Don’t chase him! He may tangle his legs in the lead rope and get in trouble. Don’t let go unless you have to, but don’t hurt yourself. Sometimes they may startle from a loud noise or a herd of deer running by. This hardly ever happens. It’s not a big worry. The fastest way to catch a llama is very slowly and quietly. Just get the word to me right away and I’ll retrieve him.

At the end of the walk, we bring the llamas back into the paddock and thank them for their service. I let the walkers pet them and take their halters and leads off. I have a little farm store where you can buy veggies in season, eggs when they’re available, llama socks and fiber products.

Every living thing needs to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, it is very hard to trust, learn, love or get “unstuck” if you are stuck. The most important thing for me is to make sure you feel safe with these llamas, and they with you.

Some people may choose not to walk a llama at first or to share one with someone else or take turns. That’s OK. Sometimes I put two lead lines on one llama if the person doesn’t feel confident. Or if I don’t feel confident in that person.

Llamas are a prey animal. Their response when afraid is to get away. Llamas are also herd animals. There is a pecking order just like the chickens or the military. You can peck down but not up! Although there is an alpha the pasture, I am the head of their herd. I distribute food and comfort, I am the gatekeeper. As such, they need to see that I have accepted you into my “herd” before we enter theirs. They are natural guardians. Even my neighbors don’t come inside the fence uninvited.