"Clicking" and spitting Llama

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Post  JML on Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:39 am

We recently bought our first two Llamas (about 4 weeks ago). One is 4 yrs old and intact the other a 3 year old gelding.

They have been brought up together and have apparently always been friendly. However over the last 4 weeks the intact one has been friendly and “moos” quite a lot. The gelding still has spitting moments at people and quite often makes a “clicking” sound with his ears back.

I have been told by the former owners that I can replace the gelded one but don’t really don’t want to if I can help it as both llamas have grown up together.

In my naive opinion I think the two hour journey across to their new home may have disturbed the gelded one.

From what I have read, unless mistreated, they / he shouldn’t spit at humans? The “clicking” seems to often be a precursor to a spitting attack.

Will I ever be able to make him approachable to humans? If so how? Or should I swap him for another?

Any advice would be gratefully received.


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Post  Brookfieldllamas on Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:34 pm

See https://britishllamasociety.forumotion.com/a-place-to-ask-questions-f6/how-far-is-the-older-llama-trainable-t105.htm
(hope that link works- if it doesn't then it is in this part of the forum under 'How far is the older Llama Trainable' and is very informative on using approach and retreat techniques with relatively 'unhandled' llamas).

Have your Llamas been handled previously? To what extent?
I must admit that a llama that spits at a human is quite unusual, unless aggravated.
I have been spat at only twice in four years of handling llamas-once when I was standing between two llamas holding a carrot that they were both eating- I got caught in the cross-fire when one decided it was actually her carrot!
The other time was when injecting a female llama the stud male decided to 'protect' her and spat at the injector and helpers (ie me, my husband and sons). He did not try to spit at us again afterwards, and hasn't since -it was just when he thought we were causing harm to one of his girls!

Clicking is usually a sign that the llama thinks that danger is approaching- a group of llamas alerted to a danger-strange animal, unknown person etc will click to one another and do a lot of approaching with their neck and head down followed by retreating away to a safe distance and more clicking until they have fully investigated the scary intrusion.
Is it possible that your gelding is only recently castrated? He might still think of himself as a stallion needing to protect his herd.
I think, to move forward you probably need to know more of his history and then work as per the above link- lots of approach and retreat.
Time is also a factor, four weeks is not a long time in which to settle in to their new home.
Hope this helps,


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Post  mlonghurst on Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:43 pm


In my experience, llamas do not have to be mistreated to spit at humans and there may be occasions when they decided to do so for a variety of reasons. Remember that llamas are individuals and as such may behave in slightly different ways and for totaly different reasons. We have one female llama that seems to get the greatest of pleasure by spitting at Sue every time she walks anywhere near her with hard feed, yet I know that Sue has never done anything to the female at all except to be kind to her. She even spits if Sue walks past the outside of the stable, then she will stand and quite happily let Sue feed her by hand.

Some llamas may find transportation quite unsettling and also finding themselves in new territory with all the associated new sounds, smells and sights can have a profound impact on their behaviour. It is possible that the change in behaviour is only short term or it could be long term, it all depends on the particular llama.

There is no reason to believe that just because 2 llamas have been reared together, that they will always get on well together. At 4 and 3 years, both your llamas are still relatively young and you may or may not notice slight changes in their behaviour over time, as I mentioned before, llamas are individuals and different experiences may influence them in different ways.

When you say that the gelded male "has spitting moments at people", is there anything in the behaviour of the humans that forms any sort of pattern just prior to a spitting episode? Does the spitting always happen in the same place? Does the llama spit at you or just other people, visitors etc? Are the people in the field or at the fence/gate when the spitting occurs?

As for exchanging the llama for another one, you need to consider if a new llama will behave any differently or it may be even worse. How attached are you to this llama, Are you afraid of the llama? I know some people that have stopped a llama spitting by using a water spray and using whenever the llama goes to spit. I personally put my hand up to the llamas face with my palm facing the llama and say NO in a commanding tone and this works for me. It would be a shame to replace a llama when it is not really causing any physical harm but possibly just reacting to a change of scene.

I would spend some time with the llama and provide some reassurance that nothing apart from the location has changed and that said llama is quite safe where he is.

Kind Regards, Mike L


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