Mar 30
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ARKive’s Top 10 Animal Mothers

In honour of Mother’s day today in the U.K., we have come up with ten of the most loving mums in the animal kingdom.

‘Darling would you stop pressing your paw so hard into my back…’

Photo of polar bear swimming with cubs

Although this lucky polar bear mummy gets to sleep through birth, it’s not all smooth sailing. She has to nurse and care for her cubs for 2.5 years, during which she has to provide food and teach them how to swim. As you can see, she gives them a helping hand every now and then.

‘Please stop fidgeting sweetie’

Great crested grebe with chick

This great crested grebe mother gets help from her partner in incubating and rearing her young, and she only has to look after them for less than 3 months. You may think she has an easy ride, but she is a very attentive mother and carries her stripy chicks around on her back. No need for a buggy here!

‘Wait your turn, you have to learn to share’

Female cheetah with suckling cubs

Cheetah mums have a lot on their mind. Until the cubs are 8 weeks old, they have to leave them alone in a lair while they go hunting. This is a necessary trip but the risk from the many predators around means the death rate of young cheetahs is very high. Thank goodness we can just go to the supermarkets!

‘I do wish you’d cleaned your feet’

Newly hatched Nile crocodile gently held in adult's jaws

This may be a big surprise to you, but the female Nile crocodile is a very attentive parent and after laying around 60 eggs will cover the nest with sand and guard it for around 90 days. Amazingly, her powerful jaws can be used incredibly gently, and she gathers the hatchlings in her mouth and transports them to water. There’s certainly no padding in this pram!

‘Try and keep up little one’

Female blue whale with calf

You won’t be jealous of the blue whale mum. She has to be pregnant for 10-11 months, and has to feed the calf 100 gallons of her fat rich milk during the nursing period! This is one demanding kid

‘In an hour I can drop you at the crèche, I’ve got to get my feathers done’

Sandwich tern with chick

We are not the only ones to come up with child daycare, as the sandwich tern has also had this idea. Once hatched, the young may gather together in a group, called a ‘crèche’, which is attended by one or several adults. Smart mothers!

‘Lunch time is over now honey, time to go and play’

Africam elephant suckling

If you thought the blue whale pregnancy was long, the African elephant definitely beats it! This poor mum has to be pregnant for nearly 2 years, and has to keep looking after the young for several years after that. Luckily other females in the group help out, known as ‘allomothers’. Every mum needs a break once in a while!

‘Don’t spike your sister!’

Hedgehog with young

Hedgehog mothers are truly single parents, as they are left alone to care for 4 to 5 spiky babies! Luckily they are born with a coat of soft spines to protect the mother during birth. They don’t stay baby soft for long though, as a second coat of dark spines emerges after about 36 hours.

‘You are getting so big now my dear!’

Giant panda female suckling infant

For such a large mummy, it is rather shocking to find out that the giant panda gives birth to a baby that is only 0.001 percent of her own weight! This caring mother will remain with her baby until it is about two years old or sometimes even older. But how could a mother resist when her baby is this cute!

‘Hang on tight my little orange!’

Bornean orang-utan female with infant

The Bornean orang-utan mother is probably one of the fittest around. She will carry her baby constantly for the first two to three years of their life and will take care of it for at least another three years! This mother definitely is a ‘supermum’!

Let us know if you can think of any other caring animal mums!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there!

May 12
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Happy Mother’s Day! – Celebrating Mothers Across the US

Today is Mother’s Day in the US and is a chance to honor and give thanks to mothers, both human and those of the animal variety!

In nature, mothers come in all shapes and sizes and are equipped with a wide range of different parenting styles.  We’ve selected a handful of moms with unique and fascinating methods for raising their babies from keeping little ones close for years to kicking them right out of the nest before they can even fly!

How many aunts do you have?

Photo of American bison

Furry and ginormous, American bison mothers live with their young in hierarchical herds led by one dominant female. Within three hours of being born, the newborn calves are able to run about but are guarded closely by many of the herds’ mothers who will charge any intruders. Talk about safety in numbers!

Ever wish your mom would let you have your own place?

Photo of long-eared owl

Our fine, feather mom, the long-eared owl, takes on the more ‘distant’ parenting approach. In a behavior known as ‘branching’, chicks leave the nest before they are able to fly and reside in surrounding vegetation, roosting separately, and thereby potentially reducing predation. While the young are capable of flight at around 35 days, both parents continue to provide food for several weeks after fledging.

Did your mom ever carry you and eight of your brothers and sisters in her mouth?

Photo of American alligator

The scaly and not-so-cuddly American alligator mother is a more involved mom. From the time that she builds the nest for her 25 to 60 eggs to the moment they hatch, she remains quite close for the 65 day incubation period guarding against any potential predators. An efficient mom, she can carry eight to ten hatchlings at a time in her mouth!

Think you live in tight corners with your mother, brothers or sisters?

Photo of American black bear

The fuzzy but protective American black bear mom keeps her cubs close, real close. Mom and cubs snuggle up for months during winter hibernation and, since cubs aren’t weaned until they are six to eight months old, the family tends to spend a second winter hibernation in close quarters.

Could you imagine having your babies but then leaving them immediately?

Photo of Hawksbill turtle

The hawksbill turtle mother, after laying up to 140 eggs in a single nest, leaves her young behind to hatch and fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. If the hatchlings survive the mad dash to the sea just after hatching, they spend their first few years in the open ocean before returning to more sheltered coastal waters.

Haven’t gotten your fill of moms and babies on ARKive yet? Check out this search for ‘mothers’ to see animal moms from around the world on ARKive!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Ari Pineda, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

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