The Top 10 Moms of Mother Nature
*With Mother’s Day just around the bend, AnimalPlex thought this would be a great time to highlight some of the best wild mothers around the globe.
A female elephant’s pregnancy lasts 22 months and that is enough to deserve a prize. Elephants give birth to the biggest babies on Earth with a newborn weighing between 200 to 250 pounds. One thing that makes elephant mothers so amazing is how they all help each other. Once a calf is born, the other mothers in the herd all help with the care of the newborn. These elephant mothers are called allomothers and they help in every aspect of rearing the young calves.
While orangutans typically aren’t very social animals, orangutan mothers spend many years taking care of their young. An orangutan baby is completely dependent on its mother for nearly two years. Orangutans have the longest infant development period of all the great apes. This explains why it is common to see groups of orangutans consisting of only mothers and their babies. Male orangutans will usually prefer to be alone and don’t bond with the babies as the mothers do.
Another animal mother that deserves to be praised is the koala bear mother. Koalas only eat highly poisonous eucalyptus leaves. When koala babies, or joeys, are born their digestive tracks lack the special bacteria that helps koalas detoxify the leaves. A koala mother helps her young build up their tolerance by feeding them her own feces. These babies, will spend about six months inside their mother’s pouch feeding on milk and developing. Aside from being born without the tolerance to these leaves, koala babies are also born without ears, eyes and fur. The koala mother will nurture and care for their young until they’re ready to feed on their own and be independent.
Female alligators are very attentive mothers. They create a nest out of rotting vegetation that produces heat so they don’t have to sit on their eggs. Once the babies are born, the mothers carry them around in their jaw for protection. For approximately one year, the mother alligator will assist her babies to the water where they will learn to eat fish, insects, and snails.
A cheetah mother must be a very patient mother. At any given time, a cheetah mom will usually have four to six cubs to care for. This is especially tough, as their cubs are not born with survival instincts. The mothers must teach them how to hunt prey and avoid other predators. It can take their babies nearly two years to train and for the training to really stick. Once the babies are mature enough and ready to fend for themselves, the mother cheetah will move on to start a new family.
6. Knobbed Hornbill
Knobbed hornbills live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where they utilize holes in trees as their nests. These birds do everything in their power to protect their babies from predators like lizards. To combat these predators, they seal the entryway to their nest with their own feces. She remains inside the nest, incubating two to three eggs for approximately 30 to 35 days. After hatching, the mother hornbill will remain in the nest, brooding the chicks for about another 90 days.
7. Harp Seal
Harp seal mothers also deserve to be praised. They have the challenge of raising babies on sheets of melting ice patrolled by hungry polar bears. Their great dedication to their pups lead them to face hunger to make sure that their pups are fed. Harp seals nurse their pups on 48% fat seal milk continuously for 12 days without eating at all. This causes the mother to lose an average of seven pounds per day, while her pup gains an average of five pounds per day. That love and care ensures that their pups grow big and strong.
8. Wolf Spider
Wolf spiders exhibit unique parenting habits that are of great interest to scientists. After mating, female wolf spiders lay several dozen or more eggs and wrap them in silk, creating an egg sac. The behavior of wolf spider mothers is known to be very aggressive when carrying their egg sacs. If the female is separated from the egg sac, she will search furiously for it. These mothers continue to exhibit this maternal behavior long after the eggs hatch. After hatching, the spiderlings climb on their mother’s back and she carries them around for several days. Female wolf spiders live for a few years more than male wolf spiders do, which might have something to do with the survival techniques the mother spiders develop while caring for their young.
The female octopus earns praise before even beginning to care for her young. She lays over 50,000 eggs at a time. The mother protects her eggs from predators while they develop before hatching. It takes around 40 days for the eggs to develop, and the mom stays close to them the entire time. While protecting them, she blows currents of water over them to provide them with oxygen. While providing for her eggs, the mom octopus is unable to hunt for herself and must result to extreme measures. In order to not go hungry, an octopus mother will eat her arms, which is true dedication.
Meerkats live in groups of around 20 and a female is usually in charge. There is one dominating pair that is constantly producing pups with the care often being performed by aunts and sisters. They teach the youngsters the necessary skills required to survive in the Kalahari Desert. A meerkat mother can nurse their young while standing on their back legs. When the pups are old enough, their mother will bring them live bugs and teach them how to kill the prey.
Did we forget to mention your favorite Mother of Nature?