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Spaying Female Llamas
What exactly is done to spay a llama?
Two methods are commonly used — tubal ligation and ovariectomy. Ovariectomy is most common and is the method of choice if hormonal relief for the female is of any concern, or if the health and/or behavioral advantages of spaying is the goal. Ovariectomy is also is the more reliable method of birth control — tubal ligations can fail.
Both methods can be done by laparoscopy, which is the least invasive form of abdominal surgery possible. One small incision is made for the laparoscope (so that the surgeon can see what s/he's doing) and two additional tiny incisions are made for the surgical tools. In an ovariectomy, the ovaries are also removed through the latter two incisions. Despite the relative safety of laparoscopic spays, the procedure can be uncomfortable — carbon dioxide is used to inflate the abdominal cavity so the surgeon can see. The gas is largely removed after surgery, but some remains, resulting in one or more days of discomfort for the llama.
Ovaries are removed via "open" surgeries in other species. In llamas, both midline and flank approaches are used with success. An experienced veterinarian can remove a female llama's ovaries through an incision only a couple of inches in length. Recovery time is dependent on the veterinarian's skills: Post-surgical discomfort can be as long as a laparoscopic spay, or it may be considerably less.
Complete hysterectomy is not performed on a llama unless the uterus is severely infected or the llama in question has frequent uterine infections. Complete hysterectomies are much riskier because of unique anatomical features of the llama; complete hysterectomies also require more invasive surgery.