Llamas often get a bad reputation, sometimes justly deserved. But if a llama is handled and trained correctly, he can be the cute, cuddly companion that his looks suggest.
Some of the unflattering adjectives that I have heard
used to describe llamas are: taciturn, aloof, cold, reserved, unfriendly,
unapproachable, standoffish, spitty…...
A lot of that is true. By nature llamas are a wary animal. In the wild, in their native South American Andes Mountains, they are prey, their primary predator being the mountain lion. Their survival depends on their keen instincts to protect their eyes and ears (their early detection system) and their feet and legs (their get-away cars). Llamas lack any offensive protection systems. They don’t have horns, antlers, hooves, or even top front teeth. So they rely on their keen senses, quick response, and speed to protect them from danger. Once we understand what makes a llama tick, we can help him overcome his natural fears and make him feel comfortable and safe around people.
Even though our llamas may not come begging for a hug around the neck, they have been conditioned to willingly and patiently accept our affections. Those of us who live with well-behaved llamas know just how extraordinary these gentle animals can be, with the right training.
A lot of llama trekking outfitters, you will find, have llamas that are very well trained to lead and carry the packs, but they just don't seem to warm up to their handlers, sidestepping away to avoid being touched. Here at Twin Creeks Llamas, we take pride in the fact that our llamas are very approachable, and will often initiate a llama snuffle...(face to face greeting with a soft exchange of breath). One of our boys, Coffee Bean, will even give kisses on command.
A day of llama hiking with Twin Creeks Llamas begins with an hour in the barn where we discuss the most common questions that people have about llamas: What are llamas and where did they come from? Why do they do the things they do? How do you read their body language, what are those ears saying? Yes, they do spit, but when and why? What is the proper way to touch a llama? As you can see, there is a lot to learn before we take the llamas on a hike. First we teach everyone how to properly halter and saddle a llama. Then each person gets to halter and saddle the llama of their choosing.
By the end of the day, our clients have developed a strong bond with their llama and recognize and appreciate the unique personality of each of our charming boys. Many people come back yearly to hike with their favorite llama. Below are some of our favorite photos of our good natured and companionable llamas.