Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Q: What Are Llamas Like? A: Everything

Here is an incredible article about llama ownership at the New York Times. Within it, llamas are compared to snack foods:

Most people start with two or three, since llamas are sociable and don’t like to live alone. But as Katrina Capasso, a llama owner in Ballston Spa, N.Y., discovered, “They’re like potato chips.” It’s hard to stop at just a few.

Also to novelty decor:

“I refer to them as our walking lawn ornaments,” he said fondly.

To that video of the mariachi band serenading a dolphin:

“Llamas will steal your heart.”

To festival-goers:

Llamas are strictly outdoor animals, and males must be kept separate from females, otherwise they will mate nonstop.

To your very best pal:

“They’re just so calming and enjoyable to be around," she said. "You can tell them all your secrets and your problems. They know all my likes and dislikes, when I’m mad at my husband and when I’m happy with my husband. They don’t tell anyone, they just listen.”

To your wild-card girl friend:

Unless they feel threatened, they rarely spit at people... “They’re standoffish at first, and then they’re in your face.”

To me at every Alt-J show I've ever been to, because what are those lyrics, really:

“People come up to me and ask, ‘Why are the llamas humming?’ ” he said. “And I’ll say, ‘Because they don’t know the words.’

I'll stop in a second, but one more little delight:

When a male is interested in a female, or mating, he makes a noise that sounds a bit like gargling. (Llama people call this an orgle.)

And a great correction:

Correction: July 8, 2013. Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to alpacas. They are bred for their wool; they are not beasts of burden.

"I'll never be your beast of burden. My back is broad, but it's a-hurtin," said alpacas worldwide.

109 Comments / Post A Comment


This is my single favorite article the Times has ever published. I desperately want to quite my job and go raise llamas for the rest of my life now. (I mean, I also did before this article ran, this just made that desire more potent.)


@newyorkette Me toooo. I don't suppose there are any Pinners with llama farm experience that can dissuade us from this flawless plan?


@iceberg No, wait, I want an alpaca farm because FLEECE.

raised amongst catalogs

@iceberg I'm not a llama farmer, but I'm a sheep farmer who HAS a llama! She guards the flock and does a wonderful job. Nothing escapes her notice but she's never warmed up to us fully. She'll take food from my hand but I can't even THINK about moving an inch or else she'll gallop off.
Also she got mad at my BF once and spat/biled on him. He was just trying to give her some medicine; sheesh!


@iceberg My partner's aunt has an alpaca farm. She's sort of looking to stop breeding them and all, so maybe we can hook you up?


@iceberg OK my aunt has alpacas and unless you are super committed to it, PLEASE DON'T. The price of good wool bearing animals has been practically devalued from people thinking that having an alpaca farm would be easy. They pretty much can't sell any of their excess animals, and sometimes they have to sell an animal that would normally have been worth a few thousand dollars for as little as $50. PLEASE DON'T.


@Megasus No, you're quite right. It's a total fantasy, and we certainly don't have any kind of actual space. Maybe if Science invents mini alpacas, like mini horses & mini donkeys (please do this).

dj pomegranate

@newyorkette I am imagining the Bergy Bits riding around on one mini-alpaca, one mini-horse, and one mini-donkey. AND I AM DYING OF THE IMAGINARY CUTENESS.


@raised amongst catalogs - Eeeee the day I learned llamas could be guard llamas, my heart grew a little.


@KeLynn I need one to watch my herd of children. Less heel-nipping than a sheepdog ;)

raised amongst catalogs

@KeLynn Right?! We got her on Craigslist and she was (wait for it...) FREE. The guy we got her from had others for sale and we lucked out in that the one he gave away has been so good to us. I assume she lucked out, too, since you never know who might be lurking on Craigslist waiting for a free llama to show up, for...purposes.
(If you're wondering why a guy gave away a llama via Craigslist: he had MANY foster kids who showed llamas in 4-H and he felt that this llama was a little bigger and more intimidating than the others -- the kids were too scared to deal with her. He wasn't kidding. Sometimes she SWOOPS her face in really close to yours, just smelling your face and enjoying your thinly- veiled panic before SWOOPING back away and doing that awesome sideways chewing thing llamas do so well.)

Last thing I want to say about my llama: She has beautiful, long teeth and the strongest neck of anyone I ever met.


@raised amongst catalogs Pics to the Pin Pets Tumblr?


@raised amongst catalogs Oooooooooooooooooooh my god A GUARD LLAMA

raised amongst catalogs

@iceberg Submitted and awaiting moderator approval!

raised amongst catalogs

@newyorkette She is the best, seriously. She HATES horses and when the neighbors (ha, NEIGHbors) ride theirs down the road she zooms to the fence to give them the stink-eye until they are out of sight. On a few occasions, dogs have slipped into the pasture and she will get right in between the dogs and the sheep and it is abundantly clear that she will be having NONE of that nonsense.

Also, every year she alerts us to the birth of the first lamb of lambing season by standing over it with her face in its face. We can see her from the house and know that it's time to go out and welcome the new arrival.

AAAAHHHH one last thing. She sometimes rolls on her back with all four legs in the air and it cracks me up. I call it "celebrating" but I'm sure she's just scratching her back.


@raised amongst catalogs I can't. I CAN'T. Can I come visit?!


My favorite photograph of all time is a Polaroid of my boyfriend from when he was 7 years old, and he's sitting on the back of a llama, and the llama is wearing a Superman costume. Because of course.


Oh, and he's also holding a llama puppet that someone gave him, and which he still has. The puppet's name is Sugar.

Kid really liked llamas.


@frigwiggin - I'd marry that guy on the basis of that photo alone.

oh! valencia

Those ones in the picture are the cutest ever.


@oh! valencia Am I mistaken, or are those actually alpacas? You know, the non-burden-bearing ones.


@frigwiggin hahahaha help i am just like the times and can't tell the difference between these animals but they're tagged as "baby llamas" on the site i found 'em on


@frigwiggin Yeah, they're alpacas. Those are the ones that are fluffy all over in a round way.



All camelids are pretty rad, so I'm okay with it.



A handy internet infographic!

(basically, llamas look like something out of Dr. Seuss, alpaca look like Pokemon.)


Gracious, here's another one, which seems to define them by what food their ears look like:


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher hahahhahahaha omg GUYS KEEP THESE THINGS COMING



(Note the "banana" and "pickle spear" ears, also that these look like rejects from the Cats open casting call)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher OK I definitely want alpacas now. I'm picturing 3 alpacas, each with a toddler-sized howdah on its back.



They also differ in their choice of formal neckwear.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher ahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahah

sarah girl

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

"also that these look like rejects from the Cats open casting call"

Oh my god DYING right now



(Bottom left is clearly Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Fairly certain bottom center is Jim Morrison.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Bottom center is David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, duh!


@iceberg top right: Mick Jagger? but like, young Mick Jagger.


@iceberg AAH you're totally right about bottom center!
Top right has shades of Bob Dylan, to me.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Top left - Debbie Harry? Definitely a lady.


@iceberg Maybe Farrah Fawcett for the top left?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher These infographics have made my entire day.


@Jinxie I'm so glad! The internet really pulls out the stops sometimes, doesn't it?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Humming??? whaaaat


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher LLAMA LLAMA DUCK


The google image search for that phrase is something else.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher My dad once declared "there's no such thing as an ugly alpaca," with the implied alternative that there were ugly llamas, so that's how my family makes the distinction now.


This is my new favorite Hairpin comment thread.

oh! valencia

@Lucienne me too! I feel so fortunate to have been the one to start it.


@EpWs nice pic :D
Jual kursi makan jati harga murah di jepara


It's amazing what sharing your efforts with others can do.@n


I was recently lucky(unlucky?) enough to witness llamas mating at Machu Picchu, and let me tell you. The sound of a male llama "orgling" while mating is HORRIFYING. I wish that experience on no one.

I bet the humming is cute though.


Thank you, thank you, that mariachi video made me so calm I'm almost comatose. Humans playing a song about a bird to entertain a whale!


@HereKitty is that video not just.... EVERYTHING

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@HereKitty I like how the whale's head bobs basically started everyone else dancing.


"His name is still spoken with reverence in the llama community."




@iceberg oh my god comfort llamas


OMG look at the brown & white one exchanging such a look <3

(Also, for some reason, there is a postcard in my possession with a photo of a white alpaca on it, & words at the bottom that only say "ALPACA IS SPECIAL")

sarah girl

Llamas are super-cute and all, but alpacas get whiny when they're tired/cranky! They literally whine! It's soooooooo adorable.


ok EVERYONE in the DC area should know about this company in Virginia, called Twin Creeks Llama Hikes where you go on a hike, with llamas. I have not yet splurged on it, but someone pelase go and tell me how it is.

Also please go to their website and read the descriptions of each llama.

"Pete is super sweet. He is very curious and loves to greet visitors with llama "snuffles". That's a typical llama greeting where he puts his face close to yours and blows soft warm air in your face."


@districter LLAMA SNUFFLES


@districter OMG my friend and I wanted to this one year when I was going to visit, but then it didn't happen. The llamas carry your lunch!


@districter This is a thing that I did once. Not there, but in Lexington, VA.


It was honestly the best day of my life. That is all.


@districter Whoa. If I'm jinxed by a Jinxie...how many Cokes is that?dmz tour hue Vinh Moc Tunnels


Is there a word for a llama-phobia? Because I find them petrifying. But then, I was trampled by a herd of them, so go figure.

dj pomegranate

@BoatGirl Whoa. Whoa. How did that happen?! (You don't have to talk about it but I am so curious.

They were obviously demon llamas!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I've also been told by ranchers that llamas are GREAT guard animals for a flock of sheep or something (you often see one mixed in with other animals), but you can't put more than one out there in the field. If you do, each llama assumes the other one will ward off the offending predator and nothing gets done. Llamas! They're just like us!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Jinxie Whoa. If I'm jinxed by a Jinxie...how many Cokes is that?


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
Infinity Cokes. Sorry!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Hey, many, I don't make the rules.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Jinxie Thanks, Obama!!!!


Possibly worth knowing: Llamas (and, I think, alpacas as well) make GREAT guard animals for smaller herd animals. Like goats. Especially baby goats(!). If you have just one llama and a herd of goats, the llama will adopt the goats and consider them its family. Doesn't happen if you've got more than one llama, though, I believe, because then they'll just band together and everyone else can go straight to hell.*

*Not an alpaca or goat expert. Learned this from the farmers at Harley Goat Farm in Pescadero, CA, where they had one llama, Bart, who hung out in a pen with the kids and kept watch over them, and protected them from predators. Also worth knowing is that during kid season, visitors can go hang out in the pen with Bart and the baby goats, and once you've had your fill of fuzzy hair-nibbling cuteness, you can go buy delicious goat cheese. Basically, it's a perfect afternoon.




@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher the kids are all like "Mom! Mom! Did you see that jump?! Mooooom!"


@iceberg So how long do you think until they try that out on you?


@Jinxie Minus two months, approximately?


@Jinxie I've been to that goat farm! It is, indeed, the best/cutest afternoon ever. Doesn't the llama have some really wonky teeth going on if I remember correctly?


@TheBelleWitch I remember nothing as to the state of Bart's teeth, but I think it's fair to assume no llama has great dental work? (Sorry, llamas.)


@Jinxie Most animals seem to suffer from the idea that animals around them are merely crap versions of themselves, i.e. goats are small rubbish llamas, humans are large rubbish cats, dogs are all the same size and can therefore fit in the same spaces...


@Apocalypstick OMG this theory makes so much sense.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Apocalypstick Well, my dog often looks at me like I'm a species of Hairless Idiot Dog, so I will now subscribe to your theory.


@Apocalypstick This is genius.

raised amongst catalogs



@Jinxie Does this have any reference to the book Harley, which is about a guard llama? http://www.amazon.com/Harley-Star-Livingstone/dp/1587170485

Unrelatedly, there are therapy llamas in Portland. I have a picture of my older daughter hugging one.


I think as a child this Sesame Street segment gave me an unrealistic view of how mainstream llama ownership was. (Warning: llama teeth scraping noises.)


This article made me and my coworker crack up, dissolve into coos over cute llamas, and then immediately seek out llama live-cams on whatever morning it was in the paper. Yay!


Did anyone else read the book Pish-Posh as a kid? About a snooty llama?


How has this not been posted already?

Homestar Runner

@laurel DYING. oh god the suspense...


Guys I was wandering around online looking at pictures of llamas and I found this:



Llama from Shirokuma Cafe would be so happy to read this article.


Am I the only one old enough to see llamas and immediately think of this, and only this?


How did that little girl in NYC have her own llama? Where did she keep it? How did she find a llama dentist in NYC before the advent of the internet? So many unanswered questions.


I think as a child this Sesame Street segment gave me an unrealistic view of how mainstream llama ownership was.


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I want to say about my llama: She has beautiful, long teeth and the strongest neck of anyone I ever met Seo Barcelona

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