50 Interesting Facts about Animal Motherhood

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1Panda's Twin Motherhood

Panda's Twin Motherhood

50% of Panda births result in twins, but Panda moms almost always abandon one. Therefore, Zookeepers have to switch the cubs every few hours to trick the mom into caring for both.


2. Killer whale mothers often stay with their adult sons for their entire lives, sharing their prey and knowledge, and the mother might also play a direct role in fostering mating opportunities because they really really want grandchildren.


3. A Black Robin named 'Old Blue' became the mother of her entire species when she was the last fertile female in a group of 5 Robins. There are now 250 Black Robins on the Chatham Islands and she is responsible for raising the status of her entire species from Critically Endangered to Endangered.


4. When mother otters dive for food, they wrap their babies in giant kelps to ensure that they won’t float away.


5. Once 80 or so eggs of a female black lace-weaver spider hatches, she stops tending her web and eating, and devotes all her time to feeding her newborns. She pukes up fluid made from her last few meals and some of her own guts. Once that runs dry, she will drum on her web to call her babies to come and eat her alive.


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6Lamb Grafting

Lamb Grafting

If a lamb dies, you can dress another lamb with its skin, and the mother of the dead lamb will accept it.


7. Deer mothers will instinctively come to the rescue of a crying human baby. In facts, mammals' infant cries share similar sonic characteristics and deer have been observed to reacting not only to human cries, but also to cats and baby seals (played via hidden speaker).


8. Quokkas have a really crazy and peculiar survival instinct which is triggered when a mother is threatened by a predator. She will throw her baby at the predator, which will hiss at the predator while the mother makes her escape.


9. Tasmanian Devils can bear up to 50 babies at once, but since they only have four nipples, the first four babies to successfully make it from the birth canal into the pouch stand a chance of surviving. The rest die and are eaten by the mother.


10. Baby horses are born with “feathers”, a.k.a. fairy fingers or golden slippers (real name eponychium). They protect the mother's uterus during gestation and later the birth canal during parturition from damage from the otherwise sharp and dangerous hoof kicks. They harden and fall off very soon after birth.


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11Orangutan Mother-Child Bond

Orangutan Mother-Child Bond

Female orangutans can only give birth once every 9 years. Though it is one of the slowest rates of birth observed among mammals, which hinders their survival, it also creates one of the strongest mother-child bonds seen in nature as little orangutans stay close to their mother during that whole period and nurse for most of it.


12. Female black bears delay the implantation of their fertilized eggs for months, effectively timing when they will give birth, and aborting the pregnancy if they are not healthy enough to rear cubs.


13. Female dogs can have a False Pregnancy that mimics the symptoms of a real pregnancy, including producing breast milk.


14. Puppies that are separated from their mother before the age of 12 weeks have been observed to experience more behavioral problems and are generally less healthy than puppies that are separated from their mothers at the age of 3 months. Removing a puppy early doesn't improve its ability to bond with humans.


15. When a female warthog suckles a new litter, each piglet has its own teat, suckling exclusively from it. Even if a piglet dies, others piglets do not suckle from the available teat.


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16African Elephant Pregnancy

African Elephant Pregnancy

The African elephant has the longest gestational period out of all mammals, with an average pregnancy lasting almost 2 years.


17. During her 8 years of stay at an animal shelter in United Kingdom, a dog named Jasmine was a 'surrogate mother' to over 50 rescued animals; including puppies, foxes, 4 badger cubs, 15 chicks, 8 guinea pigs, 15 rabbits, a deer, and a goose. She nursed each with affection, taking care of them as soon as they arrived.


18. The sex of alligator hatchlings is based purely on temperature while incubating. At 86F or lower, the babies will all be female; at 93F or higher, they will all be male. The mother can sense these temperature changes and will alter the nest to maintain an optimum temperature.


19. A female Giant Pacific Octopus can lay 50,000 eggs. She then quits eating and spends the next six months slowly dying as she tends to and protects them. On average, only 2 out of the 50,000 baby octopuses survive.


20. Matriphagy has been observed in Australian spider species Diaea Ergandro. The mother allows her babies to suckle blood from her leg joints until she has weakened and (usually) dies. This prevents early cannibalism between the spiderlings and thus resulting in more of the clutch surviving.


21Camel Coaxing Ritual

Camel Coaxing Ritual

If a camel rejects her newborn or there's a need to adopt an orphaned calf, Mongol herders use a chanting ritual accompanied by a fiddle or flute to coax her into accepting the calf. The camel mother may act aggressively initially, so the herders will change the melody depending on her behavior.


22. Sloth babies usually survive if they lose their grip on their mom and fall to the ground. Sometimes however the mother sloths don’t descend to the ground to pick the baby up as she’d risk being seen by predators.


23. Elephant seals have an abrupt weaning process. Their pups however are super weaners who, in an attempt to slow their weaning, will steal milk from nursing female elephant seals, or be adopted by another nursing mother elephant seal ("double mother-sucklers"). Super weaners are usually male and they sometimes weigh as much as 600 lbs.


24. Adactylidium is a type of mite which is known for its unusual life cycle. The pregnant female grows 5-8 females and 1 male inside her body. The male then impregnates the females while still in the mother. The females then eat their way out of their mother, and the male dies shortly after. Four days later, their daughters do the same to them.


25. A group of mongoose mothers will all give birth on the same night, as doing so in a large enough group protects their offspring from predators.

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