This may not be a question that has ever concerned you, but bear with me.
On March 24 last year, in the wake of the traumatic biting episode, Lenny was introduced to the females
he I had suffered so much to get him to meet. The moment he met them, his long forgotten sex drive kicked in, and away he went.
Over the next few weeks, llama sex was a regular event in the field behind our house. Duc and Valentine watched in amazement as Lenny had one female after another, while each time the neglected two gathered round preening themselves and demanding to be next.
Of course, it couldn’t last, and Lenny discovered – like so many men before him – that all good things must end.
We noticed that the females were getting tired of Lenny’s amorous attentions, and then the classic female response appeared. Among llamas, this does not consist of “Sorry, dear, I’ve got a bit of a headache”. Oh no, the female llama greets her paramour’s advances with a full-throated spit. And another one. Full in the face.
And so we come to the supposed ‘home test’ for llama pregnancy. The theory is that a pregnant llama will reject further attempts at mating – using a strategy which is appropriately called “spitting off”.
The trouble is, spitting is the standard llama response to any form of unwanted attention. Just because Elif spits angrily at Lenny doesn’t necessarily mean that she is pregnant. At one time or another, I’ve seen Elif spit at every other llama we own. It’s just her way of saying “Don’t mess with me!” And as Elif is the senior female, all the others tend to copy her way of behaving.
Which leaves the gestative state of our females uncertain. Maybe they’re just fed up with being jumped by Lenny. After all, he is a bit mad . . . . . .
Over the months we have watched and wondered. Are they getting bigger – or is that just big hair? In theory, we could call out the vet and go through some unimaginable process to control the females one at a time for an ultrasound scan. Nope, that’s never going to happen!
To be honest, I had pretty much forgotten about the possibility of babies. On Sunday, I drove Val to the airport in Limoges – a round trip of getting on for 5 hours – and came home ready for some peace and quiet. The dogs were keen to get out for a walk, so we set off on the usual route round the outside of the fields. Suddenly, both dogs froze, staring into the field. They started barking like mad, as they do when something new and potentially threatening appears.
I followed their gaze, and was astonished to spot something small and dark moving around among the group of females.
What on earth?
It looks like . . . . . a baby!
And of course, it was.
A healthy male.
So, how do you know when a llama is pregnant?
The real answer is, you don’t. But you do know when a llama was pregnant.
It’s now one week on, and I am still wondering if the other two llamas in Lenny’s field are pregnant. Given that llama pregnancies last 11½ months, I guess I shall soon find out.
Meantime, the baby is doing very well indeed . . . . .