Being that llamas are ruminates it seems to me that they clearly chew their cud. But I have not found any definitive information on whether or not the have fully split hooves. Furthermore, they are not in the list of animals with one sign in Vayikra 11:4-7. Can anyone clarify this matter?

3 Answers 3


Llamas are members of the Camelidae family, and as such do not have split hooves, only two large toenails, as well as a soft padding behind them. An essential element in an animal being kosher is having split hooves, and hence are not kosher. As members of the camelid family there are presumably included in the verse under the general category of camels, all of whom are pseudoruminants with three-chambered stomachs.

  • 1
    Why would you assume that when the Torah said camel it includes animals which are Kilayim with a camel? That's quite counter-intuitive.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:32
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Why would you assume that the verse is using the same categorical definitions used in a different context?
    – Jewels
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:34
  • 3
    I assume when it says a species it means that species. This is a pretty normal way of reading words in any text. Why would you assume that it means any animal in an arbitrary modern taxonomic category defined millenia after the writing of the text?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:35
  • @DoubleAA see here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/110806/16625
    – TheAsh
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 8:57

Besides the answer from @Jewels we have the answer from impure animals: present, future, past which actually mentions the llama specifically. The comment is

Interesting explanation from a comment here: Gamal, Shafan, Arnevet are written in the Torah in the three tenses (past, present, future) and so refer to Bactrian camels (past, where Avraham came from), dromedaries (present, where Bnei Yisrael were) and llamas and relations (future, to be discovered after 1492). – Michoel Apr 5 '13 at 6:34

I also dealt with this on mail-Jewish Volume 33 Number 61

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 23:36:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Rabbits and Camels

The term "maalai gairah" does not necessarily mean a ruminant. It is an interesting point that a fiction book (Watership Down) pointed out what many veterinarians did not know but which turned out to be correct, that rabbits "rechew" their food even though they do not have the extra stomachs that true ruminants do.

An article in from the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists suggested a different translation. It suggested a possibility based on the tense of the verb used in "splitting the hoof". I keep forgetting which kind of camel (one or two humped) had existed in the time of Avraham but disappeared from that area by Yetzias Mitzrayim but I think it was the two humped camel. That leads to

Two humped camel - upharsa lo hifrisah - past tense
One humped camel - uses mafris - present tense
llama - uses yafris - future tense not discovered until "modern" times.

While I don't know if this is correct or not, it certainly is an intriguing thought.


I understand from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama that the llama is a member of the camel family and so is not kosher.

  • Why should that be halachically significant? ....only thing we care about is if it has split hooves and chews its cud -- how have you shown that?
    – MTL
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:09
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    It's not part of the Camel family. It's part of the Camelid family. Not that modern taxonomy is relevant at all. -1
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:31

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