A baby llama is called a cria. The term comes from the Spanish word “cria”, which means “baby”.

Let’s take a closer look at why a baby llama is called a cria, as well as some interesting cria facts.

Why is a Baby Llama Called a Cria?

Interestingly, the word “cria”, which in spanish is more generally used to just mean “young” and can be used to describe a baby llama in both English and Spanish is a complete coincidence. “Cria” is a false cognate, which means that it is a word that has the same meaning and very similar pronunciations by complete coincidence.

When British sailors explored Chile in the 18th century, they came across baby llamas and described them onomatopoeically, which means by the sound the animals made. To the sailors, the “mwa” sound the baby llamas made was very similar to that of a human baby when crying.

How Baby Llamas Are Born

A female llama’s gestation period is 11 1/2 months (350 days). During labor, which is often quick, problem-free, and over in less than 30 minutes, delivery is normally from a standing position whereby the cria will fall to the ground. The rest of the herd gathers around the pregnant llama to protect her against potential predators.

At birth, crias weigh 15 to 30 pounds with 90% of them being born between 7:00 am to 3:00 pm – i.e. during warmer daylight hours. This is because it increases their chance of survival. As quickly as an hour after birth, crias attempt to suckle and can already start to walk.

What Do Baby Llamas Eat?

After they are born, crias are dependent on colostrum for antibody protection. Within the first 6 hours of birth, crias should receive 5 % of their body weight in colostrum and 10% within the first 12 hours to 24 hours. This is so important because, without antibodies from colostrum, severe illness can occur. For the first couple of weeks, a cria’s body weight increases by 0.5 pounds to 1 pound per day.

For the first 6 months of a baby llama’s life, it consumes only its mother’s milk, which is high in calcium and phosphorus and provides all the nutrients and minerals the cria needs to survive and thrive.

Once a young llama has weaned, it feeds on grass, ferns and hay. Llamas can eat up to 6 pounds of food a day and chew their food a long time before swallowing to aid with digestion.

When Do Crias Turn Into Adults?

At 1 year old, crias are called yearlings, are considered to be fully grown at 18 months, and reach their mature weight by 3 years.