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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Llama Math

Feeding llamas requires the use of addition, division, percentages and decimals. Go figure! These math skills are critical to the health of the hungry, hungry llamaa critter that prefers to overeat! See if you can answer the following questions to keep five llamas perfectly fed.

First, here are the weights of each animal:

Barack O'Llama weighs the most at 329 pounds!

In second place is Como T. Llama at 314 pounds.

Third place is Dalai Llama, our pack leader, 
weighing 301 pounds.

Our two-year-old llama, Bahama Llama Jr., 
weighs 297 pounds.

And Drama Llama, who is 1/4 alpaca,
weighs just 232 pounds.

Question 1: To maintain weight, each llama needs to eat 1% of his total body weight in hay each day. So how many pounds of hay should you feed EACH llama each day? Hint: Add a decimal between the first and second numbers in each animal’s weight. For example, a 329-pound llama needs 3.29 pounds of hay. See how easy decimals are?

Question 2: How many total pounds of hay do you need each day to feed ALL the llamas? Hint: Using your answers to Question 1, list the numbers so that the decimal points are lined up. Perform standard addition, remembering to put the decimal point in your answer. Are you surprised by the total? 

Question 3: How many days will your supply of hay last when you started with 1,800 pounds? Hint: Divide 1,800 by your answer to Question 2 to determine when you need to reorder two more bales of 3'x3'x8' hay! 

This is a llama grocery store.

When Mama Llama shops for hay, she buys 
two of these 900-pound, 3'x3'x8' bales.
Bahama Llama Jr., Dalai Llama and Drama Llama
steal hay from the truck!

Mama Llama purchases hay from a feed store in Texas, located one hour from her ranch. Of course there are closer feed stores, but only one in her region carries the variety of hay that her spoiled llamas like: orchardgrass/alfalfa. Most llamas—and horses, cows, sheep, goats, alpacas, etc.—eat local hay called "coastal," also known as bermudagrass. Mama Llama’s pack considers coastal hay only good for bedding or as a place to deposit their llama beans! Actually, the difference in taste between coastal hay and orchardgrass/alfalfa and is like the difference between hamburger and steak. It seems that the llamas of ShangriLlama have refined taste buds!

But it’s not just the taste that makes orchardgrass/alfalfa more satisfying; it’s also richer in nutrients. Take a look at this comparison photo:

Coastal Hay vs. Orchardgrass/Alfalfa

If you were a llama, which hay would you rather eat: the pale hay or the dark green, rich leaves and stems? That’s why Mama and Papa Llama drive so far for “the good stuff.”

This nutritious hay is loaded on very large trucks and driven to Texas from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Right now, you might be wondering whether llama hay is costly. It’s not, at least not when it’s purchased in bulk. Two premium 3’x3’x8’ bales of orchardgrass/alfalfa cost a total of $308.00, which is just $154.00 per bale. (You’ve done enough math today!) 

To ensure that each llama receives the correct amount of hay to maintain his body weight, Mama Llama uses a very large scale to measure portion size and to periodically weigh each llama. Here are pictures of this essential llama tool:

Llama scale readout with decimal.

Top side of scale,
where the animal stands to be weighed
and where the hay is placed.
Underside of feed scale.

Using this scale, each llama receives a bucket full of just the right amount of hay to keep his figure perfect. Como T. Llama, however, prefers his hay served on the floor, as shown in this quick video:

Como T. Llama Flips the Bucket

Happy Trails from Mama Llama!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Introducing Bahama Llama Jr.

LLAMAS ARE INSATIABLY CURIOUS ABOUT OTHER LLAMAS. So when Mama Llama brought home her newest llama, she knew what would happen next. The entire pack huddled around the newbie, craning their very long necks to take in the scents of this critter from the state of Washington. Sniffing revealed the llama's sex (male), what he ate lately (alfalfa), whether he's friendly (very), and, most importantly, if he's timid or bold (bold). His temperament will determine his ranking in the pack.

The ShangriLlama pack gets up close 
and personal with Bahama Llama Jr.

The new llama is named Bahama Llama Jr., in memory of a beloved llama with a similar, sweet disposition and amazing coat. Bahama Llama Jr.'s coat is officially rose, though some call that red. His muzzle is gray, making a stunning combination. Bahama Llama Jr. is stocky and very woolly, so he looks like a big teddy bear! Mama Llama has no doubt that this llama will be a show-stopper on Llama Walks!

Bahama Llama Jr. is only two-years old, yet he's as tall as Barack O'Llama, who is six! Bahama is going to be a big boy when he's four and fully grown.Though young, Bahama has already won several awards, including a Grand National Championship! 

Here are some pictures of Bahama's first day with ShangriLlama:

Papa Llama brings Bahama Llama Jr. to the Llama Mobile.

The five working llamas at ShangriLlama. 
Aren't they gorgeous? 

Over the next few days, these five llamas will have to decide which one will become pack leader. Will Bahama Llama Jr. rank last as a newbie, or will he assert himself ahead of one of his new pack mates? Mama Llama will post an addendum to this blog page with the rankings. 

February 5, 2016: And the winner is...Dalai Llama! Those of you who have met Dalai Llama would never have guessed he'd someday lead his pack! But he is six-years' old now and the largest llama of the five--for now, at least. He's a gentle leader, inclined to coax  the others to follow him, rather than t-bone them into submission. However, Bahama Llama Jr. has his eyes on Dalai Llama's job, and it's likely that Bahama will grow to be even bigger than Dalai. It's Mama Llama's best guess that Bahama Llama Jr. will, indeed, become the pack leader when he's fully grown in two years. So this will be a most interesting two years!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Llama Shopping

PAJAMA LLAMA IS RETIRING AS PACK LEADER OF SHANGRILLAMA. He is fifteen-and-a-half years old and deserves to spend his twilight years grazing and relaxing. It's hard work guarding a pack 24/7! But is there a llama that can replace the regal, commanding, respected Pajama Llama?

Pajama Llama, far right, leads the ShangriLlama pack.
(You really should click this picture to enlarge it. It's beautiful!)
Mama Llama has decided to go llama shopping, and the National Llama Show just happens to be coming up. That’s where the prettiest, woolliest, cleverest llamas compete for prizes. This year’s national championships take place in Kansas. Time for a road trip!

Llama Girl and Her British Hubster
Attend Their First Llama Show.
And here are some of the llamas that Mama Llama interviewed for the job opening at ShangriLlama:

Maybe this llama is Pajama Llama's cousin!

Great eye patch!

He is a big beauty!

This llama has a sense of humor!

Oh my! He's a regal boy!

A panda llama?

He's playful and sweet with nice fringe on top!

This llama is getting ready for his hairstylist
to wash and blow dry that gorgeous wool!

Such a sweet face!

What a lovely appaloosa and white llama!
There are so many terrific llamas, but there's only ONE opening at ShangriLlama! Mama Llama realizes it's impossible to replace Pajama Llama. He is a one of a kind. So her pack will have to decide for themselves which llama will become the new leader, because Mama Llama is going to buy a llama that has a different look than the members of her current pack.
After careful consideration and hours of fun, Mama Llama has chosen her newest llama. He comes with the internationally registered name of Pippin, The Ring Shall Be Mine. His name references The Lord of the Rings plus his ability to win multiple times in the llama show ring. He was named Grand Champion Heavy Wool Male in the Northwest Regional Finals, and Novice Performance Champion in the Northwest ALSA Regional competition. He will surely win more awards this weekend at the Grand Nationals Championship in Kansas. Pippin is only two years old and quite the showman!

At ShangriLlama, Pippin shall be called Bahama Llama Jr., in honor of a beloved pack member from many years ago. Here’s a photo of Bahama Llama Jr.:

Introducing Bahama Llama Jr.,
ShangriLlama's Newest Pack Member!
Isn't he beautiful? Do you think he looks like a giant teddy bear? Wouldn’t you like to give him a hug? Mama Llama will do that for you when he arrives to join the ShangriLlama pack. Check back soon to see the video of the momentous occasion when Bahama Llama Jr. meets his new llama family!
Happy Trails from Mama Llama!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Como T. Llama Goes to Hollywood

Our funniest llama has been cast in an Internet series called “Llama Cop.” This original, live-action show was produced by Starz Digital and Ambitious Media for Starz’ comedy YouTube channel called Union Pool. In the six webisodes, Como T. Llama plays a renegade cop paired with a straight-laced detective trying to solve a crime. 

Series Poster for "Llama Cop"
 For each day of filming, Como was eager to jump into his "Llama Mobile" to travel to various set locations, including the front yard of a house off Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, inside a Los Angeles church (!), inside a police van, and inside an LA and Orange County sound stage. 

 In the back of Mama Llama’s mind, she has worried that someone somewhere will claim that llamas should not be in show biz. But if Como could speak, he would say he had the time of his life on the set of “Llama Cop!” Llamas are highly intelligent and insatiably curious. They need mental stimulation. At home, Como has acres of land to freely roam and to play with his pack mates. But when the weekend rolls around and it is time to take a three-hour walk, Como and his friends dash to the exit gate and hum impatiently to go on the trail. They love to mingle with people as much as people love to see the llamas.

Llamas not only like to socialize, but they also enjoy playing dress-up! At Christmas, Como and his pals wear reindeer antlers, and on Cinco de Mayo, the pack dons mini sombreros and serapes. Llamas can easily shake off costumes, but they are usually happy to dress up. That is why most annual llama gatherings include a llama costume contest! In "Llama Cop," Como plays a detective and wears a badge and gun holster. As an undercover officer, he is disguised in a hat and beard.

Llamas like to dress up.
So you can imagine how much fun Como had when he became the first llama to wear a tuxedo and attend a Hollywood premiere. Initially, he hesitated about going inside the nightclub, because it was dark and the doorway was narrow. He thought it over, and when he was ready, he entered. Later on, he did not want to leave the party! (Mama Llama is like that, too.)
The co-stars of "Llama Cop" are
Walter Masterson and Como T. Llama.
Do you know how to tell if a llama is having a great time? Take a look at his ears! Are they shaped like bananas? Or are they pointed outward? Tipped forward? Those are happy positions. But if the ears are flat back, then you are looking at an annoyed llama. (Have fun googling llama images and discovering the many photos of annoyed llamas.)  Llamas can be temperamental, so their ears may flick from happy to annoyed in seconds. But the nightclub photos of Como and the footage of “Llama Cop” show a happy-eared Como. See! Llamas like being in show biz, but no one had ever invited a llama to participate before. Como is proud to be the first llama in the history of the Internet to star in a network-sponsored show. He is also the second animal to attract paparazzi attention at a nightclub. (The first was Bianca Jagger, who rode a white horse into Studio 54.)
Como T. Llama is a party animal!
You may be wondering why Como was chosen for the role of Buddy Callahan in “Llama Cop.” Other llamas were interviewed, but only Como passed the screen test—and yes, there was a screen test! Como received the benefit of training from the most decorated llama trainer in North America. When he was one year old, Como was adopted by ShangriLlama, an animal education company that offers three-hour trails walks with llamas on weekends. Como has proven to be quite the entertainer on the trail and is usually dubbed the favorite during Llama Walks. This may be because Como comes from a specialty ranch in Nebraska, which breeds sweet, attractive, large llamas. Como is half Argentine and half Chilean. His light-colored, spotted curly coat (Appaloosa suri) is beautiful, and his face is shaped in a permanent, goofy smile. He is irresistibly charming, gentle and funny. You can learn more about Como T. Llama plus 30 little-known facts about llamas from the quirky book, The Llamas of ShangriLlama (available on 

The cast and crew of "Llama Cop" applaud their woolly star.

Here is the link to “Llama Cop:

And here are the show's six release dates:

April Fool’s Day
Episode 1
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Episode 2
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Episode 3
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Episode 4
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Episode 5
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Episode 6

Behind-the-scenes special features will be released after each episode. 

Happy Trails from Mama Llama
and Como T. Llama!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Long-necked Llamas


One distinguishing feature of the llama is
its long, woolly neck, which measures 2/3 the length of its back.
When standing erect, the llama’s neck and mane
make the animal look athletic and regal.

Dalai Llama
But when the neck is sheared,
the llama looks, well, rather amusing.
Under its gorgeous mane is a shockingly thin neck.

Dalai Llama's Long, Skinny Neck is Revealed!
Such long, skinny necks are very useful.
Llamas use it as a tool to steal leaves, to swing threateningly at predators,
to wrestle with other llamas, and to provide a counterbalance when rising
from a seated or lying position.
Even so, rising is an awkward movement for the llama,
which has four knees, but only the front ones bend.

Llamas only have two bendable knees.
Their back legs are joined at the hip!
Try standing from a crouched position without bending your knees!
Can’t do it? Try swinging your neck to provide some momentum.
That works out beautifully for the llama.

The most remarkable fact about the llama’s neck is how enough blood can travel such a great distance from the heart all the way to the head. Llamas accomplish this with ease through specially designed elliptical (oval) blood cells. Most other mammals, including humans, have round blood cells, which are smaller than the llama's. Elliptical cells carry extra blood--and just the right amount to compensate for the length that blood must travel in the amazing llama. These oval shaped cells are also very stable.

In comparison, the world’s longest-necked animal—the giraffe—has a completely different system for blood circulation from its heart to its head. With a neck length of six feet, the giraffe is designed with an unusually large heart, weighing 25 pounds and measuring nearly two-feet long. This large heart generates almost double the blood pressure of a human heart at 150-beats per minute. Additionally, seven one-way valves in the jugular veins prevent back flow when the giraffe lowers its head, while blood vessels in the animal’s lower legs maintain a balancing pressure.

So giraffes and llamas both have long necks and compensating blood-pressure systems. But are they related? After all, they both chew their cud, and they are both classified in the Order Artiodactlya.

However, the llama’s taxonomy Family is called Camelidae—with the alpaca, guanaco, vicuna, and camel (a distant relative) in their Family. The giraffe’s Family is called Giraffidae, and its relatives are extinct, except for the okapi, which looks more like a zebra than a giraffe.

The okapi is the giraffe's only relative.
More importantly, the llama is fully domesticated,
while the giraffe is a wild animal. 
They are NOT relatives, but it is understandable that many people think they are.

Happy Trails from Mama Llama!

Monday, September 9, 2013


Well, aside from eating and cat-napping (they don’t really sleep), 
they play all sorts of games with their pack members. 

These games include:

 “Your Food is My Food” 
“Get Out of My Way”
“Can’t Touch Me!”
“I Can Spit Farther Than You Can” 

Essentially, llamas spend their day stealing food, pushing other llamas
away from “their” food, 
chasing and spitting at each other, plus wrestling and bucking
to assert their ranking in the pack.

Blessedly, a much more magical activity takes place just before the sun goes down. 
That’s the time of day when llamas spend their excess energy
before staying fairly still from sundown to sunup. 
This particular activity is called pronking. 

Think of a rabbit or a deer hopping through a meadow:
all four feet leave the ground at once.

That’s what llamas actually do, and it’s an odd sight to behold. 
Even stoic, ultra-serious llamas will join in an occasional pronking session. 
With every member of the pack hopping like bunnies for five to 10 minutes, 
pronking looks like an ancient, ritualistic dance.
But it’s just the llamas joining in some last-minute fun.

Llamas don’t pronk everyday. 
In fact, it’s an occasional activity, and because it happens at dusk, 
lighting is very poor for videotaping.
Mama Llama has tried unsuccessfully for years to videotape
her llamas pronking. They're sneaky about it!
Fortunately, contains some videos
of other llamas pronking for joy. You won't believe your eyes!

Happy Trails from Mama Llama!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How Long Do Llamas Live?

After all, they are large animals, 
weighing from 250 to 400 pounds when fully grown, 
and they often measure six-feet tall. 
But large animals can live a long time. 
Take a look:

9 years
10 years
20 years
22 years
40 years
40 years
40 years
45 years
68 years
70 years

So how long do llamas live? The most common age range is 15 to 18 years. That number truly is remarkable, because there is very little medicine specifically formulated for llamas. In fact, most of their medicine was developed for other livestock or equine. Fortunately, llamas are hardy animals, which require little maintenance beyond good nutrition and a watchful eye against obesity and plant poisons.

Surprisingly, the health needs of llamas have been scientifically studied less than 30 years—even though these animals were domesticated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago. Then llamas were prolific—as they are even today in South America. If a llama becomes ill, it is usually put down, rather than receive medical treatment.

But recent grants at veterinary teaching hospitals have resulted in landmark studies about llamas and their camelid cousins. Quite notably, llama DNA has been completely mapped, revealing that these animals have 74 chromosomes. That’s comparable to a horse (64) and a cow (60), and this number well exceeds that of humans (46).

Great news! Llama DNA studies will also increase the human life span! Take a look at these recent discoveries:

2009 – Scientists have determined that certain antibodies in llama blood can be used to quickly and accurately detect biological weapons—such as cholera and smallpox—then quickly develop antibodies that bind to new threats as they are revealed. 

2011 – An unusual type of antibody in llama blood provides a practical treatment for human botulism poisoning. This treatment holds promise for curbing other human diseases.

By unlocking the DNA code of the llama, scientists are now developing medicines specific to the llama’s needs, which will increase their life span toward that of the horse. These studies will surely benefit llama owners and llama lovers, too!

Happy Trails from Mama Llama!