There’s more to llamas and alpacas than spitting. These sociable creatures make great pets – as long as you have the time and space, and are prepared to shop around to find the right insurance.
If you want a llama or alpaca as a pet, you should take out pet insurance. This will cover your pet for theft, death and vet fees for accidental injury or illness.
However, if you’re making money from your llama or alpaca (through breeding or selling wool), you’ll need livestock insurance. This can also include third party liability insurance, which will cover you if your llama or alpaca injures a member of the public at a show or event.
In insurance terms, llamas and alpacas are classed as exotic animals, so need specialist insurance. The most basic policies cover death, theft and infertility. However, you can also get cover for vet fees, illness or injury, and weather hazards.
Having some cover for vet bills is advisable as medical treatment for pets can get expensive. Llamas and alpacas can suffer with liver fluke, hepatitis and parasitic diseases so it’s good to have these included in your policy. Always read the terms and conditions to make sure a policy provides the cover you need.
If you're using your llama or alpaca to make money, you’ll need livestock insurance. This doesn’t include vet fees but covers things like slaughter, infertility, theft, weather perils and accidental death.
Or you could look into getting an exotic pet insurance policy, which offers more extensive coverage. Most insurers help to cover the cost of:
Sometimes exotic pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, so check the policy.
Llamas and alpacas need a lot of outdoor space to roam around. According to the British Llama Society, you’ll need at least one acre of land for two animals. It recommends dividing the space to allow the grass to rest.
Fencing is important as llamas and alpacas can chew through trees and bushes. You’ll need to provide them with shelter too. This protects them from bad weather and keeps hay dry for feeding.
Llamas and alpacas should be kept in pairs or groups. They’re sweet-natured and get on well with other domesticated animals such as dogs. A male llama can even act as a guard for smaller animals like sheep or chickens.
Always buy your llama or alpaca from a reputable breeder or a legitimate rescue centre. See the British Alpaca Society’s list of suppliers in your area.
Llamas can live for more than 20 years so it’s worth investing in a healthy animal. Check out the British Llama Society for information about caring for llamas and what to consider before buying a llama.