Monday, 25 March 2013

Twins in the animal world - let's see some lookalikes

When pictures were released last week of twin gorillas born in Rwanda in 2011, I thought it would be fitting to look at a couple of other twins in the animal world, especially as I am a twin myself. 

Twins are extremely rare for mountain gorillas and as they give birth every four or five years, it's very exciting conservationists have been able to follow these babies from birth. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild and they are actually the best of the apes at looking after twins. Sadly, orangutan and chimpanzee twin births usually result in one baby dying within two weeks, although there are no statistics or research as to why this is. 

Two famous twins in the animal world are Shire Horses Bud and Weiser. Born in Surrey in 1989, they were given to Brickfields on the Isle of Wight in 1990 on the condition they would remain there for the rest of their lives.

The chances of giving birth to live twins is extremely rare with horses and it is actually quite dangerous for the mother. In most cases one or even both foals die as a mare's uterus cannot generally support two babies at the same time. The odds of twin horses are one in 10,000 compared to humans where twins occur in about one in 80 pregnancies.

An animal well known for producing twin fawns is the Whitetail Deer. Usually found in America, the older the doe, the more chance of her carrying twins. In fact when less than a year of age the possibility of carrying twins is 10 percent, but this figure shoots up to an astonishing 67 per cent when compared to older does.

Cows are able to have twins, however this isn't as straightforward as it first seems. Most cows tend to accept one calf and reject the other as she is unaware that both belong to her. Therefore this can be hard work as the rejected calf tends to be bottle fed until it can be weaned. What is also interesting is if the twins are both female then they will both be able to reproduce, whereas if one is born male and the other is female, the female will not be fertile and will be unable to reproduce when older.

It's fascinating to see that twins are possible in the animal world and whether they are as common as humans or not.

However, last but not least is me! This is a picture of me and my sister when we were younger. As you can see we were pretty identical back then, but I've also attached a picture of us now to show we're not so identical as we used to be!

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