One of the best parts about third year is our ability to take electives. First and second year we take the same classes, no matter what our main interests are, and then third year we have the opportunities to take electives in addition to our core classes.
I am currently in the camelids elective, and it is one of my favorite electives that I have taken so far. Our camelids class focuses mainly on llamas and alpacas. Although camels are also a part of this group, they aren’t as common in Texas. The class focuses on the veterinary care, husbandry, and behavior of camelids and also involves several hands-on opportunities so that we can practice our handling skills.
A few fun facts about camelids:
1. Llamas and alpacas are originally from South America.
2. Llamas are taller, have less hair on their face, and have ears that are shaped like bananas. Alpacas are shorter, have fuzzier faces, and smaller ears.
3. A baby llama or alpaca is called a cria (pronounced cree-yah).
4. In Texas, llamas and alpacas are very prone to overheating, and we combat that by shearing them in the spring.
5. Although they can kick like a horse, their main defense mechanism is spitting. They spit partially digested food and it smells terrible!
Being exposed to many different species has been one of my favorite parts of veterinary school, and I can’t wait to work on these fun creatures when I get out into practice!