was October 1992 and impatiently, we were awaiting our first
llama birth. Before long a beautiful brown and white female
cria made her appearance. Rebecca, a family friend, was
visiting at the time, so we named the cria Rebecca, nicknamed
were captivated by our new baby … then two weeks later,
disaster struck. Becki's mother died. Little Becki needed
bottle raising, but having previously hand-reared other
livestock we weren't unduly perturbed.
became really friendly and we loved the affection she showed
us. Wherever I went, like a faithful dog, Becki would be
right beside me. In the paddock, unhaltered, she'd let me
pick up her feet and trim her nails. A family barbeque …
and Becki would be there. We'd visit friends ... and Becki
would jump into the van and come along.
we'd play games … I'd run towards her and she'd rear up
on her hind legs and rest her forelegs on my shoulders.
She'd kush on command. I thought we had the greatest public
relations llama in the world. Little did I realize Becki
was treating me as she would another llama ... and that
I was creating a problem for myself.
about 15 months, Becki was mated ... and everything changed.
Our beautiful friendly llama became irritable and difficult.
If I touched her she'd spit at me. Cutting toenails, worming
or any medical attention was a nightmare. I couldn't understand
the change in her.
then I've learnt this behaviour was our fault, not Becki's
...caused by us 'over-socializing' with her as a
cria. I'd become just another llama, and she'd been telling
me to keep my distance ... as she would any other member
of the herd.
worked hard to remedy the situation and now there's no spitting
when we touch or handle her. Fortunately, it was not her
intention to harm us physically, and that green 'spit' washes
off … so although we'd created a difficult situation for
ourselves, there'd been no real danger.
Becki had been male, however, a resolution may have been
less easily achieved. Male llamas are territorial, so an
over-socialized male may be more threatening. Americans
term such animals 'berserk males'. These days at Llovely
Banks, we're careful to avoid over-socializing our llamas
believing 'an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure'.
Banks Llamas are friendly and easy to work with ... but
the question is … where to draw the line? What constitutes
over-socializing? How do you assess when they're too friendly?
I guess experience is the best teacher …
I said … when I touched Becki, she spat at me, but when
I stepped back she stopped. She was telling me to stay out
of her space. This is what we need to teach the cria … except
in reverse. Our crias come up to
us in the paddock … but aren't permitted to enter our space
uninvited. We expect our crias to stop about a half a metre
they continue forward uninvited ... we create for them a
small sense of discomfort ... maybe a flick on the nose
with a finger or a tap on the leg with a training wand.
Any slight gesture which makes the cria take that step back
'out of your personal space'.
in training will ensure your llama
is respectful, keeping that half a metre distance until
invited to move closer ... and if you observe these basic
steps, you should never encounter the problem we did.
months - and still no cria!
Dam Rejects Cria