As I’m planning my homestead, I’ve decided on alpacas, but at the same time–llamas make decent livestock guardians. I was thinking about their similarities and how to take care of them. For alpacas, apples are a common treat, but can llamas have fruit too? I did some research to find out. Here’s what I found.
Llamas can have some fruits as treats, but they normally get most of their food by grazing on grass. They can have fruits like apples and pineapples, but since llamas don’t have any top teeth, the fruit needs to be cut into small pieces. Treats should be occasional as foods high in sugar can upset a llama’s digestion.
So, while llamas can eat some fruits, if they eat too many they can bloat and potentially develop gut issues. Also, some fruits can be poisonous to them. So, which fruits can llamas eat, and which can’t they eat? Should they even be eating fruit in the first place?
Should Llamas Eat Fruit?
In the wild, llamas ate many plants such as lichens, tree foliage, and shrubs. Now, most llamas eat greens, pellets, and hay. So, feeding fruit is a bit outside of their normal diet and can upset their stomach.
Llamas can eat fruit, but the quantity, size, and type should be limited. Fruit should be cut up into smaller chunks so the llamas don’t choke on it. It’s best to leave fruit as an occasional treat, instead of part of their meal, as the majority of a llama’s diet should be made up of hay and grass.
Depending on your climate, llamas will eat grass on the pasture in the summer, and hay in the winter. Outside of these, they can be fed a small amount of alfalfa hay (not for pregnant llamas). Fruit should be treated the same and limited if possible. The high amount of sugar from the fruit can upset the llama’s gut and bloat them. In extreme cases, they might need to be seen by a vet.
For more information about what to feed llamas, check out my other post: the complete guide to feeding llamas and alpacas.
Which Fruit Can Llamas Eat?
The two fruits that are most commonly used as treats for llamas are apples and pineapples. However, other homesteaders have treated llamas with bananas, watermelon, and peaches and the llamas didn’t show any signs of intolerance. Moderation is most important when feeding any fruit to llamas.
Most homesteaders like to play it safe and just treat their llamas occasionally with cut-up apples. But, some have experimented with other fruits and have reported their llamas were fine. Here’s a full list these homesteaders provided:
Some even tried experimenting with plums to see if the llamas were interested (spoiler: they were definitely interested).
The overall consensus was that apples were the most popular and safest fruit to feed them.
While the fruits on this list should be okay to feed to your llamas in small amounts, consult your llama’s veterinarian before changing their feed.
Which Fruit Can’t Llamas Eat?
While there’s a big list of fruits llamas can eat, there’s quite a few they can’t eat as well. These fruits can cause a more adverse reaction in llamas and can even cause death, so consider keeping llamas away from these fruits (and any of the trees or plants that grow them).
Here’s a list of the fruit llamas can’t eat:
- Nightshade (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant)
Other than the fruit, llamas should not eat the leaves from these trees as well. For example, leaves from black cherry trees are very toxic and can kill most livestock. If you’re on a newer pasture, consider checking that there aren’t any wild black cherry trees growing before you place your livestock in their ranges.
What to Feed Llamas for Treats
Llamas can be fed many fruits and vegetables for treats. Some of the most common are broccoli, carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes. With these, it’s still important to break up the fruits and veggies into smaller pieces due to the llama’s lack of front teeth.
Fruits can be often used as treats for llamas, but eating too much or the wrong fruits can make the llama sick. Common symptoms are bloating and digestive issues (you might also see a change in their stool’s consistency). Llamas only have bottom teeth and a set of rear top and bottom molars, so break up the fruit into tiny chunks to prevent choking. Lastly, check which fruits are on their safe list, and when in doubt, stick to apples.