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Telling Alaska’s Story: Reindeer twins beating the odds in Palmer

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 10:16 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Reindeer twins Spicy and Spike were born at the William’s reindeer farm about 40 miles north of Anchorage below the Bodenburg Butte. After being separated at birth, they are now reunited as best friends.

Lauren Waite’s family farm has had reindeer for over 30 years, and the farm is still being run by her family today.

“We have the largest captive herd in North America...in the 30 years of having reindeers, no other twins have survived beyond 24 hours.”

Reindeer twins surviving is extremely rare and because of this the twins became a part of their tour this summer.

“As far as we know, we know a lot of other reindeer farmers that I don’t know anybody else has had twins that survived,” Waite said.

In fact, there’s only a few documented cases of Reindeer twins surviving in the world.

Spike!
Spike!(Williams Reindeer Farm | Lexi Yelverton)

Waite explained that in April of 2021 when the twins were born, she was concerned because typically one or both of the reindeer twins does not survive.

“We watched the baby pop out and as soon as the first one came out I saw that there were two more feet hanging out of her bottom, and I panicked because I was like, oh no, this means twins,” Waite said. “Usually one of the twins won’t survive or the mom doesn’t survive just the way that twins are. The reindeer are not built for twins.”

Prior to the birth, the owners of the farm were not confident in the mom actually being pregnant.

“I actually have a picture of her the day before she gave birth and she doesn’t even look pregnant,” Waite said. “It was amazing to have these two twins that were both nursing off the same mom and she was licking them both dry. She totally knew they were both her babies.”

Twin reindeers, Spicy and Spike, when they were first born.
Twin reindeers, Spicy and Spike, when they were first born.(Williams Reindeer Farm | Lexi Yelverton)

They even debated if she was pregnant or not because she looked so skinny. Apparently reindeer hide their pregnancies well so they were not even completely sure that Sugar Mama was pregnant. She said

“She had two babies in there so it was a big surprise.”

Sugar Mama is older and was not prone to having twins so they had no clue beforehand that the twins were on the way.

The farm plans on keeping the twins for the rest of their lives. Usually when cattle have twins that are a girl and boy they can sometimes be sterile and can’t make babies. Waite was not sure if the twins are actually sterile or not but they will not sell them just in case they can’t reproduce.

Sugarmama taking care of her twin reindeers.
Sugarmama taking care of her twin reindeers.(Williams Reindeer Farm | Lexi Yelverton)

They decided to name Spike first and because he was the smaller twin, he was bottle-fed as a baby so he’s super sweet and like a puppy that will follow them around. On the other hand, Spicy was more sassy, rambunctious, and playful. She can be cuddly, but not as cuddly as Spike.

Waite explained that the twins can be separated for months, but when they reunite they’re always interested in similar things and always find each other. She even said that Spicy was protective over her brother and always has his back. The twins were born in April and are now a little older than 6 months old and are best friends.

If you’re interested in meeting Spicy or Spike, head over to Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer, Alaska.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.