Diagram of the Llama's Stomach


The unique digestive system of a llama contains one stomach with three compartments. Food is taken in through the esophagus and stored in the first compartment called the rumen.  Most food collects in the rumen immediately after being swallowed and it's later returned to the mouth as cud for chewing thoroughly.

Llamas regurgitate their food to rechew it. You can observe a bubble-like lump coming up the front of the neck when they bring up their cud. They then chew it with their back teeth in a figure eight motion - normally chewing 55-75 times. They swallow it again, wait about eight seconds, and then bring up another cud to chew. When the cud is re-swallowed, it passes into the other two compartments of the stomach. This rumination enables the llama to break down its feed materials very efficiently. By the time all the nutrients are absorbed from the digestive tract, the waste is formed in small pellets call feces. 

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