Lamas live in the Andean Mountains, which run on the edge of the South-American continent. These are elegant animals with long legs and necks. Lamas are categorized as cameloids. Besides the camels, this family houses the following animals: alpaca, vicuña, and guanaco. They also live in Europe, Australia, and North America, where they are bred on farms. It is estimated that there are around 3 million lamas on our planet. Two-thirds of them live in Bolivia. A lot of them live in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Their shoulders are approximately 1 – 1.20 m above the floor. The adults weigh around 150 kg. They are famous for their long and thick fur which is mostly brown. There are different types of lamas with differently coloured fur. Their fur can be white-brown, white and even yellowish with shades of grey.
Due to high levels of haemoglobin in their blood, they are able to easily live on high altitudes where the air is low in oxygen. Lamas live at altitudes of 2000 – 4000m, mainly on mountaintops. They are used to low-nutritious grass and other similar vegetation. Alongside eating grass, they also eat leafs, moss, lichen, roots and seeds; however, they also eat seeds and fruits in shells. When there is a shortage of fresh food they eat hay. In arid areas of the Andes, lamas get the water from the food. When they have a chance they drink a lot of water. They can drink up to 10l of water.
They have a very interesting lifestyle – they need company. They live in harems – One male and many females and younglings. They mate during the summer and before autumn. Fun fact: while mating, the female is on the floor. Gestation lasts for 12 months and the female gives birth to one offspring, weighing 10 kg. The offspring is breastfed for 5 months and they stay with the pack until the father forces him away – around the 1,5 years of age.
The male ensures the safety of the pack. It protects its ownership against other males and beasts, such as mountain lions and coyote. When in dangers, lamas become extremely aggressive, they kick the attacker with their legs, they bite and spit. They defend their territory against other groups of lamas. They are very friendly towards the sheep. They accept them into their company and protect them as one of their own. For this reason, in South America, they are sometimes used instead of shepherd dogs to protect goats, sheep, and horses.
When males fight for supremacy in the pack, they bite the opponent´s legs and fight with their neck. The weaker falls to the ground, leans on the side and raises his tail – this means it surrendered. Until the age of 3, when they reach sexual maturity, young males live with the pack. After that, they leave the pack to form packs of their own. The aging males leave the pack and retreat to solitude – to die in peace. The majority of lamas reach the age of 15, some live even beyond 20 years of age.