Inspired by:

Cavalcanti, S.M.C. and Knowlton F.F., 1998. Evaluation of physical and behavioral traits of llamas associated with aggressiveness toward sheep-threatening canids. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 61(2): 143-158

Franklin, W.L. and Powell, K., 1993. Guard llamas. Iowa State University—University Extension Publication, Ames, IA, 12 pp.

Markham, D., 1990. Llamas Are the Ultimate: Training, Feeding, Packing, Hunting, Fishing, and Care. Snake River Llamas, Idaho Falls, ID, pp. 8–14.

Markham, D., 1993. Warning to coyotes; this sheep ranch is guarded by llamas. Rocky Mountain Livestock Journal, Dec.-Jan., 29–33.

Meadows, L.E. and Knowlton, F.F., 2000. Efficacy of guard llamas to reduce canine predation on domestic sheep. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28(3): 614-622

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Make no mistake about it: your life is in danger. Whether it be from the crazed smack addict willing to do anything for his next hit, a rival eager to revenge a perceived slight or an urbanized harpy eagle, your survival is constantly being threatened. The only way to ensure the safety of you and your family is to take your protection into your own hands: you, my friend, need a llama.

There are a few issues to consider when purchasing a llama. Firstly one must find a suitable llama supplier. There are many sources of high quality guard llamas including your local llama farm, llama brokers, the classifieds, the internet or any llama events that you might be attending including Llama Jamboree 2006 being held in Bute, Montana. Wherever you purchase your llama it will be wise to ensure that the animal is registered with the International Federation of Guard Llamas (IFGL). This will indicate that the llama has undergone the proper training in a variety of disciplines ranging from the basic predator guarding up to the more advanced hostage negotiation. You should decide beforehand what skill set you would like your llama to possess. There is nothing worse than an overqualified llama. For instance a llama, trained in the delicate arts of diplomacy, will become depressed and distant if it is only given the task of guarding your ’86 Chevy Cavalier from any would-be vandal. Consequently, it will probably let its guard down and you will be left with a llama with very low self-esteem and an antennae-less ’86 Chevy Cavalier with the words “Wash me” scrawled onto the dirt caked rear windshield.

When selecting an appropriate llama you should be looking for alertness, leadership ability and weight. Even the strongest llama won’t be able to defend you if they can’t first perceive the threat. Therefore, steer clear of any animals that show a tendency towards myopia or a fondness for drink. Also, the larger the animal the more aggressive, so go big. But don’t go too big, an obese llama is an ineffective llama. Most importantly though, you want a llama that shows initiative when it comes to scaring off coyotes, aggressive panhandlers and other predators, but that is not overly dominant. Remember, you are the boss, if you want to watch “Gilmore Girls” you should not have to endure a shower of llama-spit to do so.

Once you have purchased your llama you will now have to care for it. Luckily llamas are great scavengers and adapt quickly to an urban setting. It will probably be enough to simply give the llama a few hours of free time a day and it will be able to feed itself whether it be by grazing in local playing fields or surgical strikes on the grocers around the corner. If your llama begins to stay out for longer and longer periods of time be wary. Recently there has been a marked increase in llama gangs. These no-goodniks prey on young llamas that are new to the city and you do not want your new guard animal falling in with a disreputable crowd. I think we can all agree that the elderly made this country what it is today and should not, in their twilight years, have to suffer the indignity of being harassed by groups of idle llamas in ill-fitting leather jackets.

It is important to remember that llama disasters can occur, particularly through heat stress and improper training. Llamas are not equipped to handle high heat and humidity. If your llama starts to drool, breathe with its mouth, stumble and/or become depressed it is most likely suffering from heat stress. There are many ways to avoid this problem most of which are common sense: provide plenty of shade and drinking water/sports drinks, do not allow the llama to consume any fescue grass, dress the animal in only those novelty sweaters that are weather-appropriate etc. There is also a danger of Berzerk Llama Syndrome, which arises when baby llamas are over-socialized. You will know a berserk llama when you see one so it is unlikely that you will purchase a llama only to find out about its incessant head butting when you get it home. However, if you are raising your llama from birth you should remember that it is not a replacement for the children you can’t have but rather a wild animal that should be treated as such.

Llamas are not only great guard animals they are also great friends. Do not be afraid to confide in your llama for they are renowned in the animal kingdom for their discretion and tact unlike the talkative moose. They are also fiercely loyal and have a keen sense of irony. As long as you treat your llama with the care and respect it deserves your life together will surely be a long and rewarding one.