A llama is an extraordinarily eco-friendly pet. Yes, llamas do indeed make great pets. It is true that llamas won’t lick your face like dogs do (not their style) or sit on your lap like cats do (a bit too big for that), but they are friendly in a reserved cat-like manner and can easily become accustomed to you. You and your llama can develop a wonderful relationship. Best of all, keeping a llama has a smaller carbon footprint than keeping any common pet.
Llamas eat grass. For anyone who has a grass-covered yard of sufficient size, this means that most of a llama’s food requirements are grown on your own property, eliminating transportation. This translates to a very healthy carbon savings! In winter months, or when your own grass gets too thin (if your available grassland doesn’t produce enough food for your llamas), you can buy locally-produced hay. While there is some small transport involved in bringing the hay back to your place, this is significantly less transportation, and therefore less fuel consumed, than the transport required to bring packaged feeds for common pets such as cats and dogs to your home. You see, a factory which may or may not even be located in this country produced and bagged the commercial dog or cat food you eventually buy at the grocery store. That factory shipped the goods to a central warehouse, which then shipped the goods to the store, probably crossing thousands of miles in the indirect and inefficient shipping process. By contrast, the local hay you bought shipped fewer than 50 miles from farmer to feed store, and fewer than 50 miles to your home. If you bought direct from the farmer, you cut that in half.
In addition to grass, llamas also need some grain in their regular diets. No matter where you live, you can buy grain that was produced somewhat locally, or at least not too very far away – which still puts it far ahead of dog and cat food bags in terms of transportation-related carbon costs per pound. Also, the grain is more of a supplement than a meal, so a llama eats much less grain than the amount of dog food a dog of the same weight would eat. The llama’s main food is the grass.
Because llamas eat your grass like sheep do, keeping llamas means you won’t have to mow your yard any more. They will do the mowing on your behalf by eating all that grass growth. This saves carbon in a big way, as you no longer need to burn fossil fuels to cut your grass. (Yes, there are hand-push mowers, but in all honesty, most people just don’t use them.)
Furthermore, llamas give back generously to your yard. Llama poop comes out as tiny round pellets of excellent fertilizer. Unlike the droppings of dogs and cats, what llamas leave behind doesn’t need to be composted; it can be applied fresh. Whether you leave it to feed your grass or use it to feed your flower bed, you will be feeding your plants without the use of chemical fertilizers, another big carbon savings. Furthermore, you are doing this without using any transportation to bring the fertilizers to your site, another carbon savings. Even if you would not have actually chosen to purchase and use any fertilizer, returning the nutrients to the soil for your grass to use helps it grow. Grass soaks up carbon from the atmosphere, just like a tree does. In other words, llamas create their very own carbon credits.
Speaking of elimination, llamas live outside and produce a tidy, non-smelly pellet. You do not need to purchase any special products to deal with this waste. Llamas naturally pick one or two bathroom spots and use those spots exclusively. You can use a trowel or dustpan to scoop it up, and then sprinkle the pellets where you want them. You will have no need of plastic bags, kitty litter, cedar chips, or other disposable eco-unfriendly products commonly associated with house pets.
Llamas also provide llama wool, a very soft and desirable fiber which you can use instead of cotton in many things. As it happens, commercially-grown cotton has a very large carbon footprint.
So, all in all, llamas have a very tiny carbon footprint. The carbon costs of keeping a llama are significantly lower than those of any of the usual house pets. Plus, llamas create their own carbon offsets to further reduce their total carbon footprint. In other words, llamas are much more eco-friendly pets than dogs, cats, ferrets, rodents kept in cages, and so forth.
Of course, many things in this article about llamas also apply to sheep, goats, and alpacas. Sheep and alpacas also primarily eat grass, and will keep your lawn mowed by eating it, just like llamas. Meanwhile, goats are browsers who can eat grass as a mainstay, but will prefer other food if they have access to it. Alpacas and sheep also produce great fiber, as do some goats. All three produce pellets, though sheep and goats drop their pellets anywhere and any time. Therefore, all three of these animals are also more eco-friendly pets than the usual house pets, with small carbon footprints similar to the llama’s carbon footprint. However, the llama is more eco-friendly, with a smaller footprint than the other three. Although sheep, goats, and alpacas also produce good fertilizer, llamas simply produce better fertilizer. Yes, that’s right – a llama’s sh** is better than anyone else’s sh**. Llamas get the carbon footprint crown because of the quality of their poop.