It was October 1992 and impatiently, we were awaiting our first llama birth. Before long a beautiful brown and white female cria made her appearance. Rebecca, a family friend, was visiting at the time, so we named the cria Rebecca, nicknamed Becki.

We were captivated by our new baby then two weeks later, disaster struck. Becki's mother died. Little Becki needed bottle raising, but having previously hand-reared other livestock we weren't unduly perturbed.

Becki became really friendly and we loved the affection she showed us. Wherever I went, like a faithful dog, Becki would be right beside me. In the paddock, unhaltered, she'd let me pick up her feet and trim her nails. A family barbeque and Becki would be there. We'd visit friends ... and Becki would jump into the van and come along.

Together we'd play games I'd run towards her and she'd rear up on her hind legs and rest her forelegs on my shoulders. She'd kush on command. I thought we had the greatest public relations llama in the world. Little did I realize Becki was treating me as she would another llama ... and that I was creating a problem for myself.

At about 15 months, Becki was mated ... and everything changed. Our beautiful friendly llama became irritable and difficult. If I touched her she'd spit at me. Cutting toenails, worming or any medical attention was a nightmare. I couldn't understand the change in her.

Since then I've learnt this behaviour was our fault, not Becki's ...caused by us 'over-socializing' with her as a cria. I'd become just another llama, and she'd been telling me to keep my distance ... as she would any other member of the herd.

We've worked hard to remedy the situation and now there's no spitting when we touch or handle her. Fortunately, it was not her intention to harm us physically, and that green 'spit' washes off so although we'd created a difficult situation for ourselves, there'd been no real danger.

If Becki had been male, however, a resolution may have been less easily achieved. Male llamas are territorial, so an over-socialized male may be more threatening. Americans term such animals 'berserk males'. These days at Llovely Banks, we're careful to avoid over-socializing our llamas believing 'an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure'.

Llovely Banks Llamas are friendly and easy to work with ... but the question is where to draw the line? What constitutes over-socializing? How do you assess when they're too friendly? I guess experience is the best teacher

As I said when I touched Becki, she spat at me, but when I stepped back she stopped. She was telling me to stay out of her space. This is what we need to teach the cria except in reverse. Our crias come up to us in the paddock but aren't permitted to enter our space uninvited. We expect our crias to stop about a half a metre away.

Should they continue forward uninvited ... we create for them a small sense of discomfort ... maybe a flick on the nose with a finger or a tap on the leg with a training wand. Any slight gesture which makes the cria take that step back 'out of your personal space'.

Consistency in training will ensure your llama is respectful, keeping that half a metre distance until invited to move closer ... and if you observe these basic steps, you should never encounter the problem we did.

13 months - and still no cria!
Dam Rejects Cria
Late-Day Babies

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