11 Amazing Mothers in the Wild
We all know how human moms raise kids, although the methods certainly vary from mother to mother, but have you ever explored about mothers from other species are different to us? Here are 11 examples of mothers in the animal kingdom.
Elephants exist in a strongly matriarchal society, so a new mom can always depend on the other females to help with taking care of a newborn calf. The herd will move more slowly to allow the babies to keep up, while showing them which plants to eat and where to find them. The mother elephant will nurse her calf for four to six years while gradually weaning it. With a gestation period of 22 months and a bond that exists for around 16 years, the commitment shown by these intelligent giants is immense.
Highly intelligent with social skills, a sense of humor and playful natures, dolphins are also dedicated mothers. Newborn dolphin calves are born with minimal skills, so mom has to be there to help her baby to learn to breathe and swim in synchronicity as well as giving protection from the many predators around. A new mother can go for two months without sleep, just in order to make sure her calf is all right. The calf will nurse from its mother for anything from six months up to two years, then stick close to her until it reaches adolescence between five and ten years of age.
It is not only the moms who shoulder the task of rearing the young. The Emperor Penguin mom leaves her egg in the safekeeping of a male, whose task it is to protect the delicate shell and newly hatched chick from the harsh elements. The mother then sets out over long distances to reach the ocean and a supply of fish. She eats copiously, then returns to the chick to regurgitate the food and allow it to nestle close to her for warmth.
The gazelle is a favorite treat for many predators within her environment. In order to protect her newborn, she will hide it in undergrowth then venture to quite a distance to avoid attracting danger to the fawn through her distinctive scent.
Gorillas are transient by nature, and mothers will carry their young wherever they go until the baby learns to walk at around four to five months of age. Mom’s back is usually the safest place, and handy to the food source, as young gorillas will nurse for up to three to four years. They share the mother’s nest until they are about six years old, before becoming more independent.
The female lion has an inclusive policy when it comes to rearing the young of the pride. It is not unusual for a lactating mother to nurse the cubs of another lioness when needed. Instances have even been recorded of lionesses showing protective behavior towards the young of other species, even to the point of suckling a baby cheetah.
Even though an alligator’s jaws can crush the bones of its prey in seconds, they also serve as the cradle for the mother ‘gator’s new hatchlings. She keeps her new babies safely inside her mouth to protect them from predators. As they mature, they often hitch a ride on her back, giving them that edge of protection. The mother keeps a close eye on them for the first year of their lives and is always close by to offer help when needed.
Cheetah mothers are protective and cautious, just like the other members of the cat family. A litter can range from two to five cubs, and the mom is careful to move them every four days or so to prevent a smell building up that could attract predators. During the first year and a half of the cubs’ lives, the mother gives them intensive training in how to hunt and survive, before leaving them to stay as a group and fend for themselves.
An octopus gets the motherhood experience over and done with in one go. Laying a batch of around 200,000 eggs, she then devotes herself to protecting them until they are ready to hatch a month later and drift away into the surrounding sea. She is with them constantly, not leaving for food, and can even eat her own tentacles in order to survive.
Standing out as one of the best mothers in nature, an orangutan nurses and transports her young for the first two years. The whole maternal teaching process continues until the young orangutan reaches six or seven years, by which time they know how to find food and build their own nest. The bond is so strong though, that often orangutans pop in to visit their moms until they reach the age of 15 or 16.
Imagine having to stack on 200 extra kg just to be ready to give birth! An expectant polar bear mother needs to do that so her fetus will be able to grow during the long months of winter hibernation. If the mother does not have that extra supply of fat and tissue her body may re-absorb the fetus in order to survive. The mother often delivers twin cubs, and they will stay close to her for around two years in order to learn all the skills they need to cope in a harsh climate. The first couple of months are spent snuggled up close to mom, feeding on her milk before venturing out in early spring.