Monday, March 15, 2010

Spitting as a form of communication, part 2

-or- There's this really bad taste in my mouth

(You can read part 1 by clicking: here)

What I failed to mention in my post last week on llama spitting is that my donkeys are not the sole targets of the llamas' projectile spitooey ( <--I made that word up). The spitting and the intricate non-verbal body gestures that go on prior to every spitting event is a very complex method of llama communication.

The three llama girls use it daily amongst themselves, not just to warn but also to redirect each other.

Most of the time, I'm fairly certain the llama ladies don't want to spit. The threats that lead up to the spitting are really about trying to get someone to IMMEDIATELY STOP doing what they're doing. (And if you don't stop, well, you get what you deserve.)

Uh oh. See how Kai's and Dolly's heads are tilted up? Things are looking serious - they have irritated each other:

Kai decides to avert her eyes so Dolly won't spit. Dolly's mouth is pursed and ready to fire:

It doesn't always come to spitting, though. I've seen the llamas with their heads straight up for minutes at a time as each of them tries to assess whether the other one is going to spit or stand down.

Suddenly, in a bold change of strategy, Kai turns and gives Dolly a side facial spit:

What's not immediately obvious in this photo:

...is that as Kai spat at Dolly, Dolly gave it to Toni and Toni returned the gesture. All three of them just gave it to each other. A classic three-way spit-off.
How do I know? See the lower teeth? Normally these don't show:

The taste left over from an angry spitting is apparently so foul, time is required afterwards to "air out the mouth":

I try to help out by providing some carrot coin relief:

Poor Dolly. She really loves her carrot coins. But she can't eat it, because the taste in her mouth is so nasty:

So she just holds it there...:

...waiting for the mouth nastiness to dissipate:

Oh, dear, Toni....you, too?

Kai is a bit more subtle about the whole thing. Her mouth isn't hanging open any more and she confidently approaches me:

But that carrot is still not getting swallowed. Not just yet, anyway:

Toni, you actually look like you're laughing about this whole thing. Are you?

Ready to give a carrot coin a shot?

Just going to hold it there for a while, huh? I totally understand:

It's hard being a llama, isn't it?:

Nasty stuff, this llama spit!

33 comments:

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

My 6 year old's favorite books right now are Llama Llama Red Pajama books. I'm enjoying your llama posts and so is she!

Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

You should write childrens books! :D Excellent!

chook said...

that is so funny. a spit off. i guess it's a girl thing.

Anonymous said...

Oh my thanks for the LOL...and the info on llamas, they look so cute, who knew they were such meanies. At least they didn't get Chester this time!

Brenda said...

How interesting. I've never had the pleasure to associate with llamas. They seem like very interesting animals ... especially in their social order and communications. You've captured their expressions and attitudes beautifully. I would probably spend hours just watching them. Thank you for sharing.

Cathy said...

Great story - great photos - gave me a good chuckle this morning! That must be a really foul taste they get in their mouths to hold that carrot there for a bit!

Stevie said...

I can't stand reading about the llamas. I just have to have one, Have to, have to! They will go perfectly with my biting minipony who shows all his chompers right before he gets you. Hey, fair warning, right? www.ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

Eve said...

You know what Danni....I'm at a loss for words. I think I was going to say it serves them right for spitooeying, but then I lost track with the carrot coin harboring. What a bunch you got there!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am so excited to start my seeds....thank you thank you thank you. but couldn't you have stuffed chester in the envelope? i wonder if they don't immediately eat the carrot because maybe their esophagus does something when they spit and maybe they have to wait for it to return to normal before they can swallow? hmmmm??? these are very interesting creatures. did they spit as soon as you got them or do they spit more now that they are "at home"?

CeeCee said...

That is totally something I didn't know about llamas! I love learning something new.
Poor girls. You think they'd give up on that spitting business and just bite each other. :)

AJ-OAKS said...

Your pics are amazing! I have no intention of ever getting llamas! Not with the whole spitting thing. Although I am thoroughly enjoying your adventures with them! Are they there permanently or will they be leaving?

frugalmom said...

Ahahahah! Okay. Its not funny. Really. I do feel for them after they have spit...knowing that they will stand there with their mouths like that for minutes at a time because of the foul taste.
BUT...sometimes, they just need to learn how to curb their tempers. I mean, a 3way spit-off? I think that they should have been able to talk about this calmly.
And then to see them all wanting the carrots, but not being able to eat them just yet...but just letting them set in their mouths....oh my goodness. Kai with hers just gently resting there. Dolly trying to close her mouth a tad bit and Toni...that pic of her laughing is cracking me up.
Im smiling just thinking about all this. :-)
Those ladies are so silly.

Marigold said...

I am SO glad nobody here spits. Oy.

morningbrayfarm said...

I was wondering when part II would appear... Totally fascinating. It's like chemical warfare. That three-way spit-off was intense! I've seriously never thought that I'd think llamas are cute - until now.

Lilla said...

Wow, that must be some seriously nasty spit! I love the photos. You seem to always catch someone in the act doing something!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

thank you, I now feel well versed in the art of llama spitting. Couldn't help think of folks who enjoy paint ball, you've sorta got country-fied paint ball at your house.

Canyon Girl said...

I so agree with Sue, Joe and Michael above that you should think about writing children's books. Hopefully, you could find some time in the winter months for that. Also, are you going to keep the llamas? I think you have fallen for them, spitting and all, and I'm curious too.

Paula said...

I've seen spitooey written elsewhere, so you didn't make it up...maybe it came from your subconscious. I remember my older brother using it while we were growing up, so maybe it came from a cartoon somewhere....speaking of which, I think the three of them would make a funny Warner Bros., cartoon.

Zitrone said...

Interesting. I wonder if this foul spitting thing couldn't be applied in the search for a valid weight loss program for humans.
Just think, you get angry enough about your weight so that you could spit, then you do, and finally you are left with a foul aftertaste so strong that eating anything is impossible. Not even carrot coins.
Just saying.

Texan said...

your making me want llamas! :O)... they are so cute ...

JaneK said...

OMG!!!! I laughed OUTLOUD! That is too funny. Not sure why Dolly had to pull poor Toni into it except maybe misery loves company?! Your pics and narration are priceless. Agree with Webbers....please do write a children's book....my 3 year old would love anything about animals. Thanks for the light-hearted lift in a downer world.

Carolynn said...

That was hilarious. Well, from where I'm sitting anyway...far away and safe from nasty projectiles. Eeeew...

my word verification: mistles.

Barbee' said...

I wonder what they were so grumpy about on that day.

Texan said...

well spitting...mmm yes its quiet the ahem well its spitting LOL...

None of our aninals spit LOL but those llamas are darn cute... so I guess maybe one would get used to the spitting LOL

CattleCall Farm said...

It looks like they are all saying, "Don't even think about it" when they have their heads cocked back.

Sarah said...

That picture of Toni 'laughing' is priceless! Fantastic timing.

Did you ever see the "Is your Mama a Llama" book? My daughter's loved that when they were toddlers.

The Urban Cowboy said...

Ha! It would be awesome to spit at someone the next time they irritated you. What would they think?

JaneK said...

okay, so I had to post again b/c this is one of my favorite posts. just so darm funny. Have shared it with those that need a laugh. Like what Urban Cowboy said...I think spit offs could help a lot of anger problems in the world. Spit! and then move on (of course after the nasty taste dissapates). thanks for days of laughter with this one!

Souvenirs From Wonderland said...

Great documenting of the spitting ritual! The llama's facial expressions are so funny!

makado said...

My God! I just laughed so hard that I have tears rolling down my cheeks!!! You KILL me!:-) Or is it the girls that actually make me laugh??

Photobby said...

Like grass clippings, cigarette butts and a little something else. I'd walk around with my mouth open too.

Ninny said...

Good Gravy! I haven't been that close to a llama's mouth in, well, never!

Followed the crumbs to your blog and enjoyed it very much!

Liz (aka Ninny)

Leigh said...

I just found these posts. Very interesting. Charlie's never spit, but then no one teases him or tries to make him do something he doesn't want to! I can see why Kai is happier being an only llama.