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Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Diet

Food

  • Largest herbivore in arid areas of South America
  • Eats grasses, herbs, and leaves
  • Opportunistic, generalist diet
  • Observed feeding on lichens and cactus

Water

  • Drink from streams and ponds
  • Infrequent during the day

Diet

Foraging

  • Prefer to forage on herbaceous plants.
  • During winter, feed on shrubs and trees.

Adaptations for digestion

  • Digestive system adapted to low-quality forage, like other camelids
    • Retain food in pseudo-rumen
    • Although not classified as “ruminants,” they are “functional ruminants."
    • Regurgitation, rechewing and reswallowing is part of digestive process.
    • Compartments 1 and 2 or the 3 part stomach are anaerobic fermentation chambers.
  • Dentition similar to sheep and goats – incisors shear off plants.
  • Lips are unique – upper lip is split – each half operates independently to draw in food.

Page Citations

Gonzalez, et al (2006)
Fowler (1998)

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