Photographer's Note

Parinacota - Blue eyes

A trio of pictures of animals living on the altiplano.

Not exactly spectacular pictures but you may find the story funny. It wasn’t very funny for me, at least not at the time I met this alpaca.

Alpacas are domesticated animals that resemble a small llama in appearance.
When they live secluded and see few people they can be very shy and walk away when a foreigner approaches them. However when they get used at seeing several people regularly that shyness disappears completely.

In this case the alpaca came running up from far hoping to get some extra food.
We were four of us and took the opportunity to take close ups of the animal. Presumably this photo session lasted too long for it without getting the food that it had hoped for.

We all know what llamas do. They spit. Well, alpacas do exactly the same.

It was not a large quantity, such as in the comics but I surely had to dry my cheek.
(In the comics the entire face of a person disappears under the saliva ... like in the adventures of Tintin in ‘Prisoners of the Sun’ where a llama spits on Captain Haddock in the streets of Callao, Peru. In reality it is not as bad.)

And do you know why llamas and alpacas spit?
I found an interesting article on this subject. Have a look at: http://www.whycenter.com/why-do-llamas-spit/

Llamas and Alpacas do spit and the most common idea as to the reason behind the phenomenon is that they spit in self-defense. However, this is not entirely true; llamas do not spit at people or anything else for self defense alone. Spitting is a gesture for llamas which they originally use with each other. A male llama spits at other llamas in order to declare its superior rank in the herd. Llamas that aspire to be the leader of the herd often engage in such spitting with other males, followed by neck wrestling and chest slamming. The fights are not meant to do serious damages, but just declare superiority. Female llamas also spit at the other members, but they usually do it to communicate and direct the llamas under them.

A llama may also spit at a human, and the reason may also be the same. Whether a llama will spit at a human being or not, mostly depends on how it is raised. The problem is that when a llama is bottle-fed as a calf and treated like part of the family from its early days, it actually begins to think of the humans as family. Although the animal may love humans like its own herd, it also begins to behave with the humans as it would with other llamas, and thus the spitting, kicking and neck wrestling is directed towards the humans as well. If you handle and come in close contact with young llamas a lot, then the llama will naturally consider you to be family and therein lays the chance that it might start spitting at humans when it grows up, therefore you would have to avoid being very close to the llama if you want to avoid it.

Llamas sometime spit when they feel scared or annoyed as well, in fact, the more a llama is upset, the deeper it will reach into its tri-part stomach to draw out digesting food to spit at the source of the irritation. Llamas especially feel threatened by humans when they are kept in inappropriate conditions within a petting zoo and it is in these places that a few incidents may happen where an ill-kept llama spat at an approaching human in fear.

Llamas and alpacas are intelligent and social creatures, so it is necessary that they be treated properly and with love.

I consider myself very lucky that the reaction of the alpaca was limited to spit once. No kicking or neck wrestling :)

In the workshop you find a picture that shows well the difference between an alpaca and a llama.
On the photo three alpacas and one llama cross a brook.

On another picture you find a wild (not dangerous) animal that also lives on the altiplano:
the viscacha .

Photo Information
Viewed: 2026
Points: 60
Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5077 W: 17 N: 12169] (49028)
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