Mother alpacas rarely have twin babies, or cria.
When they do, it’s even more rare for them to survive.
But despite the odds, a couple of twin newcomers are alive and well at Rootin Tootin Alpacas in Houston. According to owners Jim and Connie Root, a four-year-old female named Skittles gave birth to twin girls a couple of weeks ago.
“We never really wanted twins because of the mortality rate,” Jim said, “but they both seem to be doing pretty well.”
The first of the twins was born Wednesday, Sept. 21 at about noon. Much to the Root’s surprise, Skittles gave birth again almost exactly 24 hours later.
The fact that the twins are both girls is a potential bonus.
“Since they’re both female, there’s a very good chance that they’ll both reproduce,” Jim said. “Most of the time if twins are a male and a female, the female won’t reproduce. We might have hit the jackpot on this one.”
The first-born of the pair weighed in at 11 pounds, 4 ounces. She has black fleece from head to toe and was named Pringles.
A day later, the twin birth was complete with the unexpected appearance of a 15 pound, 2 ounce girl named Chipotle, who has rose gray fleece and a black-and-white head.
A cria’s first week is critical; once a young alpaca gets beyond that point, its odds of survival are good.
“If you can get past seven days, you’re usually in pretty good shape,” Jim said. “Both of them are past that now.”
Skittles has instinctively chosen to feed Chipotle, but Pringles must be bottle-fed several times a day by Connie.
Interestingly, the twins have very different fleece, or fiber, even though they share the same mother and father. Pringles’ jet-black fleece has a soft and even texture, while Chipotle’s is denser, with what Jim called a “popcorn” texture.
Skittles had given birth before, but the statistical likelihood of her twins being born is one-in-2000, or even higher, depending on the information source.
The Roots recently had another addition to their alpaca population, an eight-pound male named Pretzel, who was born Friday, Sept. 23. Pretzel’s small size and weight was of concern at first, but he has gained weight steadily since birth.
“We’ve never had one that small that actually survived,” Jim said. “We’ve kind of run the gamut lately.”
The trio of newcomers showed up at a very opportune time, and were star attractions at the Roots’ annual Alpacafest which took place Sept. 24.
The number of people attending the event was estimated at between 500 and 600.
“And the best part was we had all these new guys,” Jim said. “People got a real good look at them.”
A total of five cria have been born this year at Rootin Tootin Alpacas.