It’s almost like there’s a script, a list of exact lines shared with the rest of the world, but not with me.
Every. Single. Time. I say I have llamas.
“Oh…Aren’t they mean?”
Yes. Yes. They are horrible attack monsters unrivaled by all but cthulha and the kraken. I cower before them as I walk through the barns and the pastures, willing them not to see me as I pass. In fact, they have imprisoned me on this ridgeline against my will; I am bound in eternal servitude to their highness(es).
But, honestly, the question does come up nearly every time someone learns that we have llamas. Let’s just set the record straight, shall we?
- The friendliness of a llama is dependent on its handling and its genetics. (Like, you know, all other animals…and, frankly, people.)
- My llamas are not mean. Not all of them are exceptionally friendly; our rescues especially have a tendency to be standoffish. (But seriously, why on earth would I keep twenty violent, angry animals around as pets???)
- Some llamas are mean, just like some dogs, cats, horses, and chickens are mean.
- The llamas you met at the petting zoo (farm park, the pasture that sat caty-corner to the elementary school, etc), the ones you always tell me about, they probably were mean. Llamas really aren’t built for the petting zoo environment. They will get super stressed and will NOT be friendly.
- Llamas and alpacas do spit. It’s their defense response.
- Yes, I have been spit on.
- Yes. It’s really freaking gross.
- No, my llama probably isn’t going to spit on you unless you do something to really deserve it. A well-socialized llama isn’t likely to spit at a person. (Full disclosure – I did once have a llama spit at my sister-in-law for no good reason AT ALL. That is really odd behavior, but it seemed the llama just really hated her.)
I sort of get it I guess: Llamas are rare enough that most people have limited experience with them, and everyone has a cousin whose friend got spit on that one time (or whatever).
But honestly, these creatures are pretty misunderstood. The llamas at my farm have played host to kids birthday parties, allowing five year olds to lead them through an obstacle course or on a walking trail. They have been showed all over the Midwest.
They have visited nursing homes and schools and daycare centers.
And, even now, they take center stage when visitors, large or small, visit the farm.
Now, does that look like a mean creature to you???