Animals are moms too. So this Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the best of the moms in the animal kingdom.
These animal moms all have some quality that sets them apart from the rest. See for yourself below and, of course, have a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Why they’re amazing: Elephants earn their spot on this list for giving birth to the biggest babies on Earth–approximately 200–250 pounds! They also carry these babies for a whole 22 months. Once baby elephants are born, the other “ladies” in the herd all help “babysit.” These full-time sitters are called “Allomothers” and they help in every aspect of raising the baby elephant. The relationship between mother and baby elephant has been correctly described as the closest of any animal on earth.
Why they’re amazing: Meerkats live in groups of around 20 with one dominating pair producing new pups. These pups multiply quickly, which keeps the group very busy with care work. The care work is most often completed by aunts and sisters who teach the youngsters the necessary skills required to survive in the Kalahari Desert.
Why they’re amazing: As you may know, koala bears feast on highly poisonous eucalyptus leaves. Their bowels are lined with special bacteria that makes safe digestion of the leaves possible. However, their babies are not so equipped. And so, koala moms selflessly chew their own feces and feed them to the joeys.
4. Polar Bears
Why they’re amazing: Mother polar bears raise their children in an average temperature of -40F. They dig an underground den where they remain in a hibernation-like state throughout the coldest winter months. Then, after giving birth between November and February, they live in the safety of the den while the cubs nurse on the fasting mother’s milk. When ready, the family emerges and mom begins hunting seals again. At this point, she has been fasting for eight months.
Why they’re amazing: Alligators make extremely attentive moms. After creating the perfect nest of heaping vegetation, they carry the newborns in their jaws for ultimate protection. For the next full year, the alligator will assist its babes to water where they will learn to eat fish, insects, snails and other crustaceans.
Believe it or not, earwigs make for some amazing moms!
Why they’re amazing: The mother will provide her eggs with warmth and protection from predators. She will also clean the eggs, preventing fungus formation. During this time, the only thing the mother earwig will eat is any eggs that will not hatch. When the rest do hatch, mother help babies break out of their shells. She will then continue to protect them for a few more months until they have molted a second time.
Why they’re amazing: Female orangutans have babies only every eight years or so. Thus, they have ample time to spend with their babes–and they do. Orangutan infants are extremely dependent upon their mothers for the first two years of their existence. What’s more is that for the first four months, contact between mother and infant is never broken. Each night, mom makes a nest that her and baby will cuddle in all night. Even as they mature, orangutans are highly attached to mom. They even breastfeed until they are around five years old!
8. Harp Seals
Why they’re amazing: Harp Seals already have the challenge of raising babies on sheets of melting ice patrolled by hungry polar bears. What’s more than that? They nurse their pups on 48% fat seal milk continuously for 12 days without eating at all. On this plan, the pup gains an average of five pounds per day while the mom loses an average of seven pounds per day.
Why they’re amazing: At any given time, a mother cheetah has four to six cubs under her care. These kittens are born without survival instincts, making mom’s job that much harder. She has to teach them how to hunt prey and avoid predators. This training can take nearly two years to stick. Once this round of kittens is self-sufficient enough, mom starts over again.
10. Wolf Spiders
Why they’re amazing: While most spiders hang their eggs from their web, wolf spider moms actually strap their egg sacs to their bodies and carry it. Once the eggs hatch, mom lets the baby spiders continue to hitch a ride: she carries them on her back until they are old enough to take care of themselves.
11. Red-Knobbed Hornbills
Why they’re amazing: These birds will do anything to protect their babies from predators like lizards. Their tried and true method of protection includes sealing the “doorway” to their nest with their own feces. Mom stays in the nest for the whole two month incubation period, ignoring her own hunger and protecting her babies.
12. Giant Pacific Octopus
Why they’re amazing: The female octopus’ mission is to have just one successful brood in her lifetime. In accordance, she will lay roughly 200, 000 eggs and do anything to protect them. During the month of caring for the eggs, the female octopus is starved nearly to death. She may even go as far as ingesting her own arms before she will leave her eggs for food. Once hatched, the offspring float around in blooms of plankton. The mother, too weak to defend herself at this point, often falls prey to predators.