MANY PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO LEARN HOW LONG LLAMAS LIVE.
After all, they are large animals, weighing from 275 to 450 pounds when fully grown, and they often measure six-feet tall. But large animals can experience a long life.
Take a look:
So how long do llamas live? Well, from the mid-1980s–when llamas first entered the U.S.–until about 2015, most llama breeders reported an age range of 15 to 18 years. Since then, age expectancy has increased in line with better nutrition and overall knowledge about the needs of llamas. Now it is not unusual for llamas to live to be 20 to 23 years old! 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 that require little medical intervention. With good nutrition, low stress and a watchful eye against predators and plant poisonings, llamas can reach their full lifetime potential.
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.
2010 – Therapies have been developed for both H.I.V. and influenza using llama antibodies.
2011 – A practical treatment was developed for human botulism poisoning based on antibodies from llamas and their cousins, the alpaca and camel.
2016 – Two potent llama, alpaca and camel antibodies were found to fight separately against MERS and SARS.
2019 – A rare blood-clotting disorder known as TTP can now be treated with FDA-approved medicine based on llama, alpaca and camel antibodies.
May 2020 – Scientists believe that the llama, alpaca and camel antibodies that can neutralize MERS and SARS are a likely defense against the Covid-19 virus. However, it would be costly and time-consuming to prove this true, as compared to other options.
Still, research continues at a rapid pace toward treating human illnesses with antibodies from llamas and their cousins. Such research takes place at private zoos and teaching hospitals and will benefit llamas and alpacas, which have not been well-studied as compared to other domesticated animals. Surely every llama lover looks forward to the day that llamas live as long as a horse!
Happy Trails from Mama Llama!