Llamas have been used for the transportation of goods between villages and as pack animals for centuries. Traversing the rugged terrain of the llama’s native South America would have been far more challenging for natives without their beloved llama, and so these animals have played a vital role in these areas.
While llamas can certainly be used as pack animals, can they be ridden? How much weight can a llama safely carry? Llamas are not typically used for riding, although some are bred for the purpose. Llamas are small animals, and thus only small adults or children can ride them without hurting them. Most llamas cannot bear the weight of an adult person on their spine, however, children may be able to ride them.
Let’s look at whether it’s a good idea to ride Llamas, and how much weight they’re capable of carrying.
How Were Llamas Traditionally Used?
Llamas originated in South America and are highly accustomed to cold weather and harsh terrain with their thick coats and strong hooves. They have historically been used to carry small children, packs of goods and food, and even used in battle! These animals can live for up to 25 years, and with their friendly and docile nature have long been close allies of humans.
Can Adults Ride a Llama?
Llamas can carry fairly heavy weights on their backs, but a fully grown adult is far too heavy for most llamas. In general, a llama can carry roughly 25% of its body weight. In general, llamas weigh a maximum of 400 pounds, so are only able to carry 100 pounds of weight—maximum. Very few adults weigh less than 100 pounds, so no, adults should never ride a llama, it’s simply too much weight for their spine to bear.
Can Children Ride a Llama?
Children weighing under 50 pounds can ride llamas, however, they’ll need a purpose-made saddle to evenly distribute the weight and not put too much pressure on the llama’s spine. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of llamas are not trained to accept humans riding them and may not allow someone to sit on them without a fair bit of training.
How Much Weight Can a Llama Carry?
This depends on the age and breed of the llama, as well as the terrain they are traveling through and the distance they’re walking. In general, a Llama can carry 25%–30% of their body weight—a maximum of 100 pounds in most cases—for up to 8 miles. The weight should be evenly distributed on a specially made pack to not hurt the llama, and this careful distribution is why it’s generally not recommended to ride a llama.
Male llamas can generally carry more weight than females but tend to be more independent and difficult to train. While females are capable of carrying less overall than males, they are less aggressive and easier to train.
Even when not used as pack animals and pulling carts or sleds instead, llamas should still not pull more than 25% of their body weight.
In general, adults cannot ride a llama as it’s simply too much weight for the animal’s spine. Small children under 50 pounds can safely ride a llama, although not many llamas are trained to accept riders, and they are more commonly used as pack animals. A llama cannot carry more than 100 pounds maximum, and a human weighing no more than 30–50 pounds is considered safe.
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