Do Llamas Hibernate? (Torpor Or Estivation?)

Hibernation is a state of sleep an animal might enter to save energy and survive when there is no food available. Llamas are not a dormant species and they do not hibernate during winter.

Before getting into hibernation, an animal would store huge amounts of fat (just like a camel does in its hump) to use it as an energy reserve during its winter sleep. 

And during hibernation, it will drop its body temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate down to extremely low levels to conserve energy. 

Llamas live in the Andes, at elevations ranging from 7,550 to 13,120 ft (2,300–4,000 m). Temperatures there can drop below freezing 32 degrees F (0 °C).

So, it might be a wise decision for a llama to get into hibernation and sleep over those cold winter months.

And yet, they do not do so. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of such a decision.

do llamas hibernate

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Llamas Hibernating 

The main advantage of a llama hibernating is that the animal would get more easily through the winter without having to look for food, migrate to warmer places, or face the extreme colds of the outside.

The main disadvantage to a dormant llama is the increased risk of predation. In addition, hibernating animals have weaker immunity and a higher risk of infections and parasitic diseases during and shortly after sleep.

Animals that hibernate are skunks, bees, snakes, groundhogs, and bears. Llamas are not part of that group.

Why Llamas Can’t And Don’t Need To Hibernate?

Llamas do not hibernate because the temperatures outside are not so extreme, and they can find food, even during the harshest of months. Unlike their relatives, the camels, llamas do not have a hump to store food for the winter.

They might not hibernate, but llamas love to sleep and nap. Their favorite is to stretch on the ground on a sunny and nap among their herd members.

Llamas have very thick wool and a unique digestive system that allows them to skip hibernation and be active during the winter months. 

During winter, llamas will grow long and thick coats to protect them from the freezing nights, and when the spring comes they will shed it.

white llama with black spots on head and natural coat pattern

They have a stomach with three compartments that breaks down, digests, and extracts as many nutrients as possible from the scarce food in the Andes.

Some animal scientists even claim that llamas digest food 25% more efficiently than other animals.

Llamas are also domesticated creatures. That means that they have owners that will provide them with food, water, and shelter when it’s cold. All they have to do is to bite off one another’s testicles, or hum to express their mood. Yes, llamas are remarkable creatures.

Having a bad day? Here are the 25 funniest llama memes, jokes, and puns to improve your mood.

Do Llamas Go Into Torpor? 

llama hibernating on the ground

Torpor or “temporary hibernation” is a state of sleep where an animal lowers its body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, and metabolic rate to survive the winter months. 

Compared to hibernation, torpor lasts a lot shorter and is an involuntary state an animal enters. Llamas do not get into any sort of torpor.

You can look at torpor as an animal passing out because it is feeling too cold. And while in torpor, animals can wake up fairly easily if they need to.

Animals that go into torpor are some species of birds (like hummingbirds), raccoons, skunks, some mice, and bats.

Do Llamas Aestivate?

Aestivation or estivation is a state of sleep similar to hibernation that takes place during the hot and dry summer months. Llamas do not estivate; they do not enter a period of inactivity and a lowered metabolic rate in response to high temperatures.

Some scientists refer to estivation as prolonged torpor. 

Animals that estivate are crabs, lungfish (can estivate for up to three years), earthworms, hedgehogs, snakes, crocodiles, snails, and desert tortoises.

Check out this video of llamas enjoying wintertime. They do not seem like they need to sleep.

Do Llamas Migrate?

Llamas have a long history of migration. Some 3 million years ago their ancestors moved from North America through the Panama isthmus and got into South America. Some groups of llamas can be migratory, depending on the quality of available forage and the temperature. 

Llamas are domesticated animals, which means that they do not need to migrate in search of food; their owners will provide everything.

There are some llamas that live high in the mountains that might migrate, depending on the season.

Llamas do not like extremely hot weather. That’s why, when it’s hot, they might move to the higher altitudes of the Andes, where it is colder. When temperatures there become freezing, they might move back down the mountain.

Final Thoughts – Do Llamas Hibernate?

This concludes the article on llama hibernation. 

Llamas are creatures that are active during cold winter months and do not need to enter dormant states like hibernation, torpor, or estivation. They are tough animals with thick wool that stay awake during the extremely hot or cold period of the year.

Some claim that llamas are so tough that they can tolerate seasonal extremes of -25 oF in winter and 100 oF in the summer.

Read More: Does A Gorilla Hibernate?


References

[1] The costs and benefits of hibernation

[2] Hibernation patterns in mammals: a role for bacterial growth?

[3] Brief report Tits (Parus major and Parus caeruleus) preying upon hibernating bats

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