Guanaco: The Hannibal Lecter of the Andes

A cousin to camels and llamas, the guanaco lives in the Andes Mountains of South America in arid regions where they can feed on brush and shrubs.

By Scott A. Rowan

Much like Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer from the movies who cannibalized his victims, the male Guanaco will attack other males in a vicious and gruesome attack that can maim for life when it doesn’t kill.

Found throughout South America, particularly in arid and semiarid regions such as desert grasslands and shrubland plains, the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is related to camels and llamas and lives in social groups of approximately 20-30 females and offspring who are protected by a single male.

Males are very protective of their harems and will use their sharp teeth to defend their harem from bachelors attempting to mate with females by chasing the intruders off by trying to bite them in the genitals. If successful, the male will not only defend his harem from immediate mating intrusion, but will also prevent future attempts by forcefully neutering his permanently emasculated opponent.

Much like other mammals with extended necks like camels and giraffes, a male guanaco will use his neck as a weapon too. When an interloper is chased, the male, knowing his attacker will attempt to bite his genitals, will often tumble to the ground to force a head-to-head fight and save his reproductive organs. When on the ground or in close quarters, a guanaco will bite the neck of his opponent and swing his head back and forth to batter him as well. The neck of the guanaco is fortified with thick fur and skin to help protect against bites.


BBC America, “Wild Patagonia”


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