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Llamas and Alpacas of the Mid-Atlantic States

About Camelids

Lamas are members of the camel (camelid) family. The camelids originated on the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. By the end of the last ice age (10,000-12,000 years ago), the camelids were extinct in North America. Llamas were domesticated from guanacos in the Andean highlands of Peru 4,000-5,000 years ago and are among the oldest domesticated animals in the world.

Primarily a beast of burden, they also provided native herdsmen with meat, wool for clothing, hide for shelter, manure pellets for fuel and offerings to their gods.

Today there are an estimated 7 million llamas and alpacas in South America and about 200,000 llamas and 10,000 alpacas in the United States and Canada.


Life Span: About 15-25 years

Height: 36-48” at shoulder, 5.5-6’ at head

Weight: 280-500 pounds

Average gestation: 350 days

Birth: A single baby (cria) is normally delivered from a standing mother during daylight hours. Twinning very rarely occurs.

Babies: Birth weight is 20-35 pounds. Babies are normally up and nursing within 90 minutes. They are weaned at about six months. Crias should not be removed from mothers to be bottle-fed unless medically necessary and special interaction should be done to preserve natural behavior.

Reproduction: Females are first bred at 18-24 months of age. Lamas do not have a heat cycle, but are induced ovulators (ovulation occurs 24-36 hours after breeding). They can be bred at any time.

Health: Because lamas and their ancestors are specially suited to the harsh environment of their Andean homeland, North American owners will find them uncommonly hardy, healthy, easy keepers and remarkably disease free compared to other livestock.


What are llamas used for?

Uses include breeding stock, pack animals, driving animals, wool production, therapy, guardians for sheep and companion pets.

Are they intelligent?  

Llamas are intelligent and easy to train. In just a few repetitions they will pick up and retain many behaviors such as accepting a halter, being led, loading in and out of a vehicle, pulling a cart or carrying a pack.

Can you use their fiber?

Grease-free, lightweight llama fiber is warm and luxurious and popular with spinners and weavers.


Are they good pack animals?

Llamas are excellent packers. They can carry 50-120 pounds, but are not ridden except by children. Their two-toed foot with its leathery bottom pad gives them great surefootedness. This foot, and the llama’s ability to browse, give the llama an impact on the environment equivalent to a large deer.

What and how much do they eat?

Llamas are a modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach. They chew their cud like cattle and sheep. Because of a relatively low protein requirement due to their efficient digestive system, they can be kept on a variety of pastures or hay.

What is their personality like?

These highly social animals need the companionship of their species. Independent yet shy, llamas are gentle and curious. Their calm nature and common sense make them easy for anyone, even children, to handle.

What sounds do they make?

Llamas communicate with a series of ear, body and tail postures, as well as a shrill alarm call and a humming sound in addition to a variety of other low pitched noises.

Do they spit?

Spitting is the llama's way of saying “Bug Off!” Normally used only among llamas to divert annoying suitors, ward off a perceived threat or, most commonly, to establish pecking order at mealtime, an occasional llama who has been forced to tolerate excessive human handling may have developed an intolerance for or fear of humans and will spit if it feels threatened by them.


LAMAS recommends that you meet as many lamas (and lama breeders) as you can before you make a final decision on whether to buy lamas or which lamas to buy. Become an informed consumer. LAMAS is not interested in promoting any specific breeders or types of lamas but we are interested in making sure that first time lama buyers are exposed to the relatively large amount of information that is available to anyone interested in finding out more about lamas.

Downloadable PDF Documents

Minimum Standards of Care For Llamas and Alpacas
Recommended Practices in Caring for Llamas & Alpacas
Learning About Llamas
National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
Camelid Welfare Needs Survey 2007 Report



Alpaca and Llama Show Association (ALSA)

ALSA is the show association for the lama community. The purpose of  the Alpaca and Llama Show Association  (ALSA) is to promote Llamas and Alpacas by enhancing the visibility and demonstrating the versatility of lamas at shows.  In so doing, ALSA establishes guidelines for the shows, educates the judges and records the achievements of the individual lamas. The result is a better educated lama community as to the soundness and conformations of these unique animals.


607 California Avenue
Pittsburgh , PA 15202
412-761-0211 (voice)
412-761-0212 (fax)
Email: llamas@alsashow.org
Website: www.alsashow.org


Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association (AOBA)

The Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association (AOBA) serves to
promote public awareness and membership appreciation for the
alpaca’s unique qualities; to educate the membership on the care and
breeding of the alpaca; to promote the growth of the alpaca industry
as a whole; and to foster the establishment of the breed outside of its
native land by encouraging husbandry and breeding practices based
upon, but not limited to, herd health, overall soundness, and alpaca
fiber production and products.  Additionally, it has its own Alpaca
Certified Show system.

Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association, Inc.
5000 Linbar Drive, Suite 297   Nashville, TN 37211
Phone: 615-834-4195 Fax: 615-834-4196
Website: www.alpacainfo.com
Regional Affiliates:
Mid Atlantic: www.mapaca.org
MD:  www.marylandalpacas.org       PA:  www.paoba.org
WV: www.wvalpacas.org     VA: www.vaoba.info
             Southeast: www.sealpaca.org




International Lama Registry (ILR)


The International Lama Registry (ILR) is the largest accurate compilation of genealogical information in the world. The Registry is a not-for-profit corporation with the purpose of maintaining an official genealogical registry system and research services for owners of sub species of the genus lama: llama (lama glama), guanaco (lama guanicoe), vicuna (lama vicugna) and cross-bred. It can be compared to a large library, a valuable storehouse of information, whose job is to gather and maintain accurate genealogical records. 


The International Lama Registry
PO Box 8
Kalispell, MT  59903
Email: ilr@lamaregistry.com
Phone: 406-755-3438
Fax: 406-755-3439


The Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI)

Alpacas (lama pacos) are registered under their own registry, The Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI).  The most important services these registries provide are the prompt and accurate documentation of lineage. In addition, the ILR and ARI are research centers for members wishing extended pedigree information on multiple generations, statistical data, herd lists, progeny lists, country of origin, age and color - invaluable tools in a breeding program. Statistical data provided by the ILR and ARI enables the entire lama community to monitor industry growth patterns.
Alpaca Registry, Inc
5901 North 28th Street  Suite 100
Lincoln, NE 68504
Email: ari@alpacaregistry.net
Phone: 402-437-8484
Fax: 402-437-8488



In Alphabetical Order 


Northeast Llama Rescue & Wildlife Rehab


Wes and Darcy Laraway
email: laraway@midtel.net   www.redmaplefarm.net


NELR&S/NYWRC is an I.R.S. 501(c)(3) Charity. All donations are tax exempt within the guidelines of the laws governing charitable contributions. The Laraway family rescues hundreds of domestic animals every year from all over the Northeast, providing them rehabilitation, new homes and sanctuary at their farm. Many animals are nursed back to health, and after careful screening, adopted into new families, with a new lease on life.  The Laraways are also both licensed NY State Wildlife Rehabilitators.


Southeast Llama Rescue

Lance Hardcastle and Alvin Bean (828-689-5925)

email: SELlamaRescue@aol.com

SELR is a 501C3 non-profit organization incorporated in North Carolina. Our mission is to protect the quality of life and improve the well being of abused, neglected, unwanted and behaviorally unmanageable llamas through prevention, education, intervention, placement and lifelong care. SELR assists new llama owners by providing information and finding local “mentors” to help with basic care. In situations where the owners are not interested in keeping the llamas, we take them in. In abuse cases we sometimes work with local law enforcement and animal control authorities. SELR also works closely with Llama Rescue Net, Indian Creek Sanctuary, and Northeast Llama Rescue.

SELR is also one of the few organizations that can be turned to in cases of aggression and other behavior problems. We have rehabilitated and placed half a dozen llamas with aggression problems, two of which were slated to be euthanized due to ABS (Aberrant Behavior Syndrome). 


In Virginia and North Carolina, we have access to excellent veterinarians who are interested in working with lamas. If you have questions about finding veterinarians in our area, LAMAS publishes a list. Before lamas can be brought into Virginia, they must test negative for Blue Tongue, Brucellosis and TB and, if staying in Virginia, must be permanently identified. Contact the Virginia State Veterinary Board for more information. For North Carolina, contact the North Carolina State Veterinary Board.

Camelid Hospitals

Virginia - Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg VA
Emergency Referrals, Large Animal Hospital, Reproduction, Surgery, and Internal Medicine
540.230.4621    http://www.vetmed.vt.edu
Woodside Camelid Hospital
P.O. Box 989  13011 Blanton Road   Ashland, VA 23005

804.798.3281 804.798.2703 (F)
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
601 Tharp Rd         Columbus, OH 43210

Vet Hospital Phone  (614) 292-6661


While lamas are relatively healthy, our major health concerns in this area are meningeal worm (carried by white tail deer) and heat stress. Both issues can be dealt with in advance, but can be problems if ignored. Frequent wormings, especially with ivermectin, can help ward off parasitizing by the meningeal worm. Shearing, providing cool and airy shelter, and knowing the signs of heat stress can help our lamas through the hot, humid weather. It is also a bad idea to bring lamas from a cooler area here between June and October. They just can’t acclimate fast enough. Breeding for babies between July and September is also avoided to reduce heat stress. For more information, contact your veterinarian or a respected lama breeder.

The International Camelid Institute

World Class Information, Education and Support For Alpacas, Camels, Guanacos, Llamas & Vicuñas                                  

Jeffery Lakritz, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Head and Associate Professor of Farm Animal Medicine
Director, International Camelid Initiative  The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
601 Vernon L Tharp St. Columbus, Ohio 43210
Vet Hospital Phone 614-292-6661 ext 1  Fax: 614-292-3530 E-mail: lakritz.1@osu.edu

HISTORY: The International Camelid Institute (ICI) promotes education, service and collaboration among researchers, breeders, owners, fiber and textile industry professionals and animal enthusiasts worldwide. As an information repository, veterinarians, owners, academicians, regulatory agencies and others can access and obtain essential information for everyday situations from research. ICI does not solicit research funds nor does it administer grants.

How You Can Help: The ICI is funded by an endowment that guarantees that these efforts will live forever yet remain responsive to the changing needs of the industry. By contributing to the ICI Fund at The Ohio State University Foundation you will guarantee that every penny given is used for the International Camelid Institute. Donors can choose from a range of options such as annual gift agreements, one time gifts, and pledges given over several years. Your organization can also contribute to the efforts of the ICI in the same way.
Go to   www.icinfo.org   for more information


www.alpacainfo.com Alpaca Owners & Breeders Assn. Inc. (AOBA)
www.galaonline.org Greater Appalachian Llama & Alpaca Assn. (GALA)
www.icinfo.org  International Camelid Initiative
www.lamasorg.com Lama Association of Middle Atlantic States (LAMAS)
www.llamainfo.org Llama Association of North America (LANA)
www.rmla.com Rocky Mountain Llama Association (RMLA)


www.alpacaregistry.net Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI)   (406) 437-8484
www.lamaregistry.com International Lama Registry (ILR)   (406) 755-3438




Caring for Llamas and Alpacas, A Health and Management Guide, Clare Hoffman, DVM & Ingrid Asmus; Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association c/o Janice Adamcyk, 39420 Olson Court, Kiowa, CO 80117-9604, (303) 621-2960; 2nd Edition 1998.

Llama and Alpaca Neonatal Care; Bradford B. Smith, DVM, PhD, Karen I. Timm, DVM, PhD, Patrick O. Long, DVM.  www.bixbypress.com, 1996.

Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids, Murray E. Fowler, DVM; Blackwell Publishing, 2121 South State Ave., Ames, Iowa 50014-8300 (515) 292-0140, 2nd Edition 1998.

The Complete Alpaca Book, Eric Hoffman, Bonny Doon Press, Santa Cruz, CA (831) 426-8649, bonniedoonpress@bonnydoonalpacas.org, 2003


Alpacas Magazine  &  OneVoice
1631 Route 6, RR 3
Tatamagouche NS B0K 1V0, C A N A D A (902) 657-1094 www.AlpacaInfo.com

American Livestock Magazine
PO Box 578
Gatesville,TX 76528 (888) 439-2748

Backcountry Llama
2857 Rose Valley Loop Kelso, WA 98626
(360) 425-6495  llamapacker@kalama.com

ILR Educational Pamphlets: Obtain from www.lamaregistry.com PO Box 8, Kalispell, MT 59903
(406) 755-3438

International Camelid Quarterly
Rysko Pearson Productions
70 MacEwan Ridge Pl. NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3K 3MI
(403) 275-5170  cq@llamas-alpacas.com

470 Riverside Road, Kalispell, MT 59901 (406) 755-5473 www.lamalink.com

Llama Banner
P.O. Box 1968, Manhattan, KS 66505 (785) 537-0320  info@llamabanner.com


Llama Life II
5232 Blenheim Road,
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 286-2288  LlamaLife2@aol.com



LAMAS has a lending library for members that has an extensive list of llama books and videos for beginner and experienced llama owners. Contact Beth for availability.

Beth Rowe
Forest Hill Llamas
Rt 1 Box 119
Staunton , VA 24401
Email: foresthillllamas@yahoo.com

Click here for more information

Sources for assorted lama books, videos, dvds and supplies

Useful Llama Items/strong> , 5458 Razorville Road, Byron, IL 61010 

Website: www.useful-items.com

Quality Llama Products/strong>, 585 Park St.Lebanon OR 97355
(800) 638-4689
Fax: (800) 580-5262

Website: http://www.llamaproducts.com