A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 24, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

Our Llamas Griffin, Maya and Inca  When the phone rings at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning it usually means someone has a problem.  That was the case this Thanksgiving morning.  The caller was a young lady who recently adopted some llamas from llama rescue, she had gone out to check on the llamas in the morning to find one of them had a swollen head.  The poor llamas head was literally swollen up like a balloon and there was blood coming out from the llama’s eyes.

As there was not one area of swelling it seemed unlikely that this was an injury, a more likely cause was a snakebite.  The temperatures over the last few days have dropped dramatically and so most snakes would have gone to ground by now, but there was at least one still out there and active.

I told the llamas owner that she really needed to call the vet, but I knew realistically it was going to be difficult to find vet on Thanksgiving who was working.  Even more of a challenge was that the llama that needed treatment was on a ranch many miles from the nearest town.

I asked the llama owner if she had any banamine on hand which might help ease the swelling, but she did not have any.  All the owner had on hand was some penicillin.

I suggested that the owner still try her best to get hold of a vet, but also suggested that she start calling neighboring farms and ranches to see if they had any medicines on hand that she could use. 

The llama owner asked me to call Pat Little at Southwest Llama Rescue, which I did.  Pat is one of the “angels” of Southwest Llama rescue who not only helps coordinates a lot of the llama adoptions, but also houses many of the llamas that are looking for new adoptive or foster homes.  Pat has many years of experience with llamas.

I hated disturbing Pat’s Thanksgiving morning, but knew that Pat would want to know about the llama with the snakebite.  Pat was soon on the phone with the llama’s owner giving her advice as to what she needed to do.

Unfortunately despite calls to three different vets no one was able to come out to treat the llama.  Fortunately though as of yesterday the llama was doing much better, her eyes were starting to open a little and she was eating grain, which is encouraging.  The llama’s owner had given the llama some penicillin and also gave her some Claritin that she had on hand in the house.  I am not sure what effect the Claritin would have on the llama but so far it does not seem to have had an adverse effect, and who knows maybe it helped.

When you are raising livestock you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected.  Who would have thought that a snakebite would occur on a cold and snowy (yes it snow during the morning) November day, but it did occur and unfortunately the llama’s owner did not have the supplies on hand to deal with the situation or at least buy herself a little time while she found a vet who could help her.

It would be unrealistic to expect every alpaca and llama owner to have a full veterinary supply cupboard of medicines and other veterinary supplies, but they should at least have some basic supplies on hand.  Over the years we have accumulated various supplies and learnt which medicines to keep on hand.  We do not have a high incidence of snakes in this area but if we did I would certainly have the medicines on hand to treat a snakebite.  

Usually your veterinarian can advise you what you should keep on hand in case of emergencies, and I am sure it will vary from area to area depending on different threats and risks.  Having established the supplies that you need, make sure that you then go out and get them, it’s Murphy’s Law that emergencies happen after hours or on holidays.  When the unexpected happens having a basic medicine kit on hand could mean the difference between life and death.


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