We have a poorly llama. We noticed Bertie wasn’t his usually bouncy self on Monday morning, and closer inspection revealed a small wound on his leg. We treated that with Betadine but by afternoon he was even more miserable so I headed off to the vet to get some antibiotics. After a long chat we decided on Shotapen. The problem with llamas is that there aren’t any drugs specifically for them, so anything you use is officially ‘off label’ i.e. no one knows what will happen when you use it on a camelid so the manufacturers aren’t going to be held responsible! Luckily most cow and sheep drugs seem to have the desired effect on llamas so we go with those in roughly estimated dosages. I also got some Aluspray which is an aluminium-based spray-on bandage that keeps flies off wounds.

All this, plus eau de javel, for one little llama!

We went out en masse to give Bertie his injection. It takes several people for this process with any llama or alpaca, as you need a couple of holders-down as well as the injector. I’m not allowed to administer penicillin after the recent unfortunate incident when I managed to stick the needle we’d just used on one of the sheep into myself. This had been a dose of penicillin which I’m very allergic to and I felt extremely strange later that evening while the kids were in judo. It took a lot of increasingly urgent hissed messages along the lines of ‘I’m about to keel over so get your butt out of the dojo’ to Rors to make him leave since it wasn’t official finishing time. Rors is a stickler for the rules.

I digress. Back to Bertie. Once we had him firmly controlled, we inspected the sore leg and found another much worse wound. This was hidden under the clumpy hair on his thigh. It was large and – the following is not for the faint-hearted – crammed full of maggots. He must have sustained the previous day. Flies’ eggs hatch in about 24 hours. Yuk. So we fetched eau de javel (dilute bleach) which is a staple of French animal care, more Betadine, soapy water, scissors and a brush and dealt with the wound in a brutal but necessary way. It wasn’t pleasant for Bertie but he was a stalwart although he was fairly shocked by it all and got noticeably weaker. I called the vet as well since I hadn’t come across a wound like this before and thought it might need stitches. It didn’t. The vet gave Bertie two more injections of a Vitamin C tonic and an anti-inflammatory with more antibiotics in. Bertie was in distressed llama mode which means flat on his side with his neck stretch back, very depressing to see.

We laid a tarpaulin over him to keep him cosy as it was nightfall by now and he was running a slight temperature. We also gave him a few mouthfuls of sugary water. He was not in the least impressed by this and spat it out, mainly over me! Can’t blame him, he’d had a stressful evening. Caiti and I checked on him a couple of hours later, eventually tracking him down in the very furthest corner of the field.  Mum Windermere had long since abandoned him, poor lad, so he was all alone, but sitting up and quite alert.

By morning he was reunited with his uncaring mother and grazing. I gave him another dose of Vitamin C and he drank half a bucket of water and looked brighter, although still obviously very sore. We’ve given the wound another clean this afternoon and have to tackle him with the anti-inflammatory again tonight. As he feels better, he’s getting livelier so his medical care over the next few days is going to get trickier and more energetic. He now firmly associates us with pain and is keen to avoid us at all costs!

He seems a little better so fingers crossed that the improvement continues. That’s enough llama drama for the time being …