The one thing that everyone seems to know about llamas is that they spit. But why do llamas spit anyway? Well, there are actually several reasons why llamas might spit at each other, at predators, or even at humans. Let’s take a look at them.
Why Llamas Spit At Humans
Thankfully, llamas don’t go around spitting at every human they see. There either has to be a very good reason for a llama to spit at a human, or a human just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The most common and likely reason that a llama might spit on you is because you are unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire of two or more llamas arguing, which often happens when they compete for food.
Another reason is that if a human treated a llama as a pet when it was young, the llama considers the person to be part of its social group. It will therefore display similar behaviors as it does to other llamas in its herd.
Llamas might also spit at humans when distressed, annoyed, or threatened. Fortunately, this spit will mainly come from a llama’s mouth instead of its stomach. We say fortunately because llama spit that comes from its stomach contents is a horrible thing to be on the receiving end of.
If for whatever reason you’re thinking of spitting at a llama first or spitting back at one after it has spat in your face, don’t bother. A llama is unlikely to feel a thing given the thickness of its coat.
Why Llamas Spit At Each Other
Llamas primarily spit at each other to establish their social order, which is a common sight when they are competing for food. A male llama may also spit to establish his dominance as the alpha of the group.
It isn’t just male llamas that spit, though. A female llama will spit on a male llama to let him know that she isn’t receptive to his advances.
Do Llamas Spit As Self-Defense?
A llama is no different from any other animal in that it has certain defense mechanisms that it uses for protection. A llama might not be able to defend itself against predators as effectively as some other animals, but its spit can be a valuable defense mechanism.
So, yes, llamas will spit for self-defense with the spit coming deep down from the animal’s stomach contents, which makes it more effective.
Does Llama Spit Hurt?
Llama spit doesn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean that you want to be anywhere near it, especially if the spit comes from a llama’s stomach contents instead of its mouth.
This is because if a llama spit comes from its mouth it is mostly made up of saliva. But if a llama reaches deeper down and regurgitates its acidic stomach contents, the spit is much, much more unpleasant. It is green in color, smells like nothing you have ever smelled before (in a bad way), and sticks to hair and fur.
How to Tell When a Llama is Just About to Spit
There are two signs that will tell you when a llama is getting ready to spit. A llama will pin its ear back and then stare at its target.
Next – and at which point it is too late – a llama will move its neck and raise its head up and spit either from its mouth or stomach.