Llama Lifespan

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!

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