Unusual Llama behaviour

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Post  Linda T on Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:36 pm

Hi everyone, I hope you don't mind me posting (I don't have Llamas) but I do have a few questions if that is okay.
I am currently in my 3rd year BSc(Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare, and one of my assignments this year involves environmental enrichment for captive animals. I am considering Llamas as my chosen species but cannot find any information on normal behaviour, Stereotypic behaviour (used to be called vices) or indeed much info at all.
I think I have observed a stereotypic behaviour in a Llama but as I cannot compare it to natural behaviour I am only guessing. The behaviour involves repeated swinging and circling of the head and neck for no apparant reason. Could this be submissive, dominant, or just frustrated coping behaviour? The llama is in a small group of 3, not worked at all, in a relatively small enclosure (compared to a pasture turnout) and lives in a zoo, so not a natural environment in my opinion. Has anyone else witnessed this behaviour or can anyone offer guidance as to where I can find information on Llamas normal/natural behaviour.
My task is to attempt to reduce this behaviour by providing enrichment such as splitting their fodder into different locations, making them work for their feed, a play ball, food ball etc.
Any information at all would be most welcome.
Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post, Linda. Smile

Linda T

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Post  Brookfieldllamas on Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:11 am

Dear Linda,
Welcome to the forum!
I currently have six llamas and two horses and the behaviour which you describe sounds very like the llama version of 'weaving', and in my experience sounds like atypical behaviour as a result of confinement. Llamas are extremely clever and trainable and would probably benefit enormously from 'boredom busting games' if they are kept in a relatively confined area.
When a young llama plays with another (we currently have a two month old llama who plays with the adult llamas in her paddock in this way), they will rotate the kneck and head and almost dual with their knecks, this is all done as play and usually finishes with the youngster racing around the field in lots of different gaits and as fast as she can!!
It may be an idea to contact llama owners near you so that you can observe a range of typical llama behaviour within different environments. This will enable you to identify atypical behaviours and how perhaps they can be chanelled towards more typical behaviour characteristics?!
Whereabouts are you?
Perhaps post possible locations and BLS members could offer their help.
We are on the Welsh/Shropshire border and you are welcome to observe our llamas.

Number of posts : 19
Registration date : 2010-05-27


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Post  Tim on Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:36 pm

We have one llama - Dillon - a gelded male who does this a lot. He does it while he is tied sometimes but also when he is with his mates in the field but usually when he is excited when we are around and there is the prospect of attention and of course food! If he is tied then he must be put on a swivelling halter or he winds it up and ties it in knots!

When out in the field he rarely does it if he is relaxed and not expecting anything from us. It doesn't seem to do him any harm! He lives with 4 other gelded male llamas, 2 females and an alpaca. None of the others do it.

Look at for examples of the sort of things llamas can be trained to do to while away their time.


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