Rare Twin Alpacas Born
Article from MPNnow.comA farm in the Bristol Hills has seen a very rare occurrence: the birth of identical twin alpaca girls. On Aug. 16, Aussie Hill Alpacas, Inc. welcomed the birth of Aussie Hill’s Marley and Aussie Hill’s Tasha, the registered names for the girls.
“To get twin girl crias (baby alpacas) that are perfectly healthy is like winning the lottery,” said the owner, Mary Blowers.
The girls weighed a little over nine pounds at birth, Blowers said. The average cria weighs between 14 and 20 pounds at birth. But the lower birth weight hasn’t slowed these two down: Long, spindly legs bear them as they run, chasing each other through the grass of their pasture enclosure. Their legs are surprisingly strong, for they do a curious thing called pronking, in which they will leap straight up in the air — giving their gait an added bounce here and there.
These early days, Marley and Tasha seem to celebrate being alive. They explore their surroundings, sniffing at a wayward fowl or two, and look at the world in wonder with their big curious eyes and soft white fluffy coats begging to be touched. After playing at full tilt, the tuckered-out twins look to mom for support and to nurse for awhile. They will continue putting on weight until they reach 14 pounds, making them big enough to join the herd.
The twins’ mother, 6-year-old Ruthie Holly, carried her twins full term. For her, that was 349 days, another strange occurrence. The average gestation for alpaca is around 345 days, and mothers carrying twins never go full-term, said Blowers, who has raised alpaca for eight years.
“Twins are very rare,” she said. “Alpaca are not designed to carry twins.”
When twins occur, the mother will either abort very early on, or by her seventh month — and if she carries to term she will deliver fraternal twins, a male and female, said Blowers. If they live, the female is usually infertile.
“Out of less than 200,000 alpacas in the country, there have only been 150 sets of twins ever born, and that’s over a 10-year period,” said Blowers. Of those twins, perhaps only a dozen of them lived — no one knows for sure, she said, referring to the Alpaca Registry, a database of genealogy and ownership records.
The herd of 27 alpacas is expected to increase again with two more crias due in the next couple of weeks, said Blowers, who has had as many as 50 of the animals in the past.