Llama, a domesticated mammal of the camel family. It is used as a beast of burden in the Andes of South America. The llama is closely related to the alpaca and looks much like a small, humpless camel. It stands about four feet (1.2 m) tall at the shoulder, is five feet (1.5 m) in length, and has a neck almost two feet (60 cm) long. It has erect ears; a short, bushy tail; and slender legs. The thick, soft hair is white, brown, or black, or a combination of these colors.
Llamas have long been used to carry cargo. The llama can carry about 100 pounds (45 kg) for 12 to 15 miles (19 to 24 km) a day. Llamas are valued for their meat and for their hide, which is made into leather products such as sandals. Their soft underfur is often combined with alpaca fur, and the yarn is woven into clothing and blankets; the outer hairs are braided into rope.
The llama is a hardy animal, well adapted to surviving at high altitudes. Its cloven hooves make it surefooted, adept at negotiating steep, rocky trails. The llama lives on grasses, mosses, and lichens. It is intelligent and gentle.
The llama was domesticated over 4,500 years ago in Peru. It is most abundant in Bolivia. In the late 1970's llamas were introduced into the western United States for use as pack animals for hiking and backpacking expeditions.
The llama is descended from the guanaco, a wild animal found in western and southern South America. The guanaco resembles the llama but has a woollier coat. It is dark fawn above and white below with a black face. Due to indiscriminate hunting, it is threatened with extinction.
The llama is Llama glama; the guanaco, L. guanicoe. They belong to the family Camelidae.