Llamas do not have hooves. Their feet are uniquely structured whereby each foot is made up of two toes which have a toenail and pad.
A llama has two separate nails on each foot that extend off the front of each toe and curve to point towards the ground. Unlike hooves, a llama’s nails do not surround their sole like a hoof would do.
The Advantage of Llamas Having Feet Instead of Hooves
Llamas having feet instead of hooves gives them, as well as humans, some unique benefits.
As the bottom surface of a llama’s foot is composed of a pad, they have more sensation and better contact with the ground than any animal with hooves. This unique structure allows llamas to be very sure-footed while also causing minimal damage to the environment.
Navigating rough terrain easily and not wearing a path down as quickly as other animals would is why the llama has had a very important role to play in South America, especially throughout the Andes as a pack animal. Llamas are still valuable to hikers, campers, and hunters to this day in several countries worldwide due to this reason.
Do Llamas Need Their Toenails Trimmed?
Llamas need their toenails occasionally trimmed, especially if they are not naturally worn down. In the wild, a llama’s nails would naturally wear down due to all the frequent walking on mixed terrain that they do. Llamas that live in sanctuaries and farms, on the other hand, need their nails trimmed.
The frequency at which llamas need their nails trimmed can vary from once every six weeks to once every six months, depending on a llama’s age and activity. When a llama seems to be reluctant or has difficulty walking, it’s time for a trim. Visibly, this occurs when a llama’s toenails grow over their toe, grow past its soft footpad and begin to curl over on themselves, or spread out to the side of their feet.
It’s important that a llama’s nails are trimmed because it ensures a comfortable walking surface to step on, as well as the prevention of dirt and debris from accumulating that could cause infections.
Alpaca vs Llama Hooves
Both alpacas and llamas are species of South American camelids. While they are similar in many ways, they also have a few key differences, especially in their temperament, size, and appearance. However, both alpacas and llamas have feet with two toes and soft footpads rather than hooves.