CLOSE
iStock
iStock

7 Fast Facts About Llamas

iStock
iStock

ABC15, via Twitter

This afternoon, two llamas escaped from a mobile petting zoo and led authorities on a sometimes high-speed, sometimes moseying chase through Sun City, Ariz., for nearly an hour. Here are a few fun facts about the camelids.

1. According to legend, the Spaniards, who had never seen llamas before, kept asking what they were called (“¿Cómo se llama?”)—and so the Incans thought “llama” was the Spanish name for the animals. But according to the BBC, this story is “not quite accurate. In fact the expression llama was there before the Spanish arrived. It's of Quechuan origin and was borrowed by many languages, together with other Quechuan words such as condor or puma.”

2. Llamas are native to the South American Andes. They were first imported into the United States in the late 1800s for display in zoos. In the early 1900s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst brought 12 of the animals to his private zoo at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

3. Llamas are pack animals, and can carry 50 to 75 pounds up to 20 miles. If you overload the animals, though, they’ll refuse to move. According to National Geographic, an overloaded llama will “often lie down on the ground and ... may spit, hiss, or even kick at their owners until their burden is lessened.”

4. According to the Pittsburgh Zoo, when one llama has an issue with another llama, it will stick its tongue out to express its displeasure. They’ll also spit on other llamas.

5. The llama gestation period is around 350 days. Baby llamas are called crias, and mothers usually have just one; twin births are rare.

6. Llama dung makes great fuel—and fertilizer. In fact, it may have helped the Incans grow corn and survive in the Andes. 

7. Llamas can reach speeds up to 35mph. So let’s hope no more get loose!


nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
iStock
iStock

Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios