Problematic behavior in llamas
and misdirected territorial aggression

First step — Castrate ASAP !!!

In every single case we've dealt with, castration has helped, and sometimes castration alone has resolved the problem completely. The longer you wait to castrate, the more difficult it will be to return the male to handleability, the more likely it is that you will have to surrender the animal to a qualified rehabilitator — if one can be found who has an opening for the animal. In short, the longer you delay, the more likely it is that you will have to pay out more money to euthanize the llama and dispose of his carcass instead.

Between the clear heritability of fear and aggression and the considerably increased difficulties "getting through to" intact males as compared to the same animals when gelded, we and other ethical rehabilitators refuse to work with anyone who will not castrate their difficult male immediately. It's a waste of our time, and it's also just as unethical as providing surgical correction of a hereditary defect without also removing the animal from the gene pool.

We've heard every excuse to not castrate, and frankly, there's not one that holds up under scrutiny.

Some people (and some out-of-the-loop veterinarians) refuse to castrate llamas under a certain age (the exact age they purport as "acceptable" varies from 18 months to 3 years). These people confuse the problems of too-early (pre-12 months) castration with castration before full physical maturity, and argue that they don't want to risk hurting their llama. But if a llama in the early stages of problem behavior is not castrated, he will have to be euthanized. Now that's a much more serious risk than any real or imagined disability from castration! If your regular veterinarian refuses to castrate a young llama who clearly has problematic or aggressive behavior, find another veterinarian who will do the procedure. (For more extensive information on castration age, click here.)

Others have been told that castration won't help (particularly in older llamas); some add that they don't want to waste the money in case it doesn't help. In the latter case, why waste their time and ours? Rehabilitation is a significant commitment of time and effort. As for the former, when we ask if the person giving the advice has actually tried it, and the answer is almost always "no." In the few cases where the advisor has tried castration, a few more questions quickly reveal that castration was the only thing tried — no management practices were altered — and that castration did indeed help even though it was not a complete cure.

Finally, some people tell us that they planned to breed the animal. It may be difficult to accept the necessity of castrating a particular animal when your original plans were otherwise, but there are many, many male llamas out there, most of whom do not have behavioral problems. An aggressive male obviously causes his owners more agony than they are willing to live with if they are bothering to consult us or another rehabilitator. When we point out what a living hell life would be if 50% (a reasonable estimate) of his offspring act just like him, the case for castration becomes crystal clear.

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