10 Most Amazing Animal Moms

1. Sea louse

On the top of the list of 10 most amazing Animal Moms you probably expected to see the most devoted mom who takes care of her babies, protecting them against predators and teaching them the main lessons about surviving in the cruel world. Well, not this time! The reasons the sea louse mom deserves No. 1 on our list are totally different. This lady not only has to deal with male sexual partners that impregnate more than 25 females at the same time but she has to go through a pregnancy that is terribly painful. Once the babies are ready to be born, the mother-to-be sits back as her babies chew her from the inside out, making their way into the world.

2. Octopus

When an octopus mom gives birth, she blasts out between 50,000 and 200,000 eggs, depending on her species, and then hangs onto them within her tentacles. During the next 40 days the eggs take to develop before hatching, the mother will care for them the entire time, protecting them against predators and gently blowing currents of water over them so they can get enough oxygen. During this entire period, she will not hunt – she might die of hunger, but she wouldn’t leave the eggs. She will even ingest some of her own arms for sustenance. When the eggs start hatching, this incredible mom will finally leave her lair too weak to defend herself from predators. As a result, most of those moms die shortly after their offspring hatch.

3. Elephant seal

After the mating process, the female elephant seal will spend as much time as she can feeding. She has 11 months until her offspring is born and during that time she has to build up as much fat to store as she can. After the birth, the newborn will begin to nurse immediately and the mother will continue nursing it for the next three to five weeks. At birth the elephant seal newborns weigh about 40 kilograms but they reach 120 to 130 kilograms by the time they are weaned. While the newborn triple its weight, the nursing mother may lose a third.

4. Red-knobbed hornbill

In order to protect her eggs from monitor lizards and other predators, the female red-knobbed hornbill finds a clever way to hide them. She finds a natural cavity in a large tree, which she utilizes as her nest, and seals herself inside along with the eggs. She creates a mixture of food, feathers and her own feces into a clay-like substance to seal off the enclosure. While the mother stays in the hole for her entire incubation period (two months) the male comes to regurgitate food to her through the narrow vertical slit in the wall she made. This amazing mother is often forced to ignore her own hunger pain to her detriment.

5. Orangutan

This intelligent primate mom spends nearly 90% of her life building a new nest high up in the trees every single night. During the first months of an baby orangutan’s life, it never breaks physical contact with its mother, who carries it on her belly the whole time. For the first two years of it’s life, the baby is completely dependent on its mother. It is fascinating that orangutan mothers nurse their babies until they are five years old or more, which makes them the species with the longest dependence period. When the offspring is juvenile (from two to five years old) the mother spends the time teaching it everything about surviving in the forests: which trees have the best leaves and fruits, which areas of forest to avoid, how to build nests on the trees and other important lessons. As adolescents the orangutans are independent but they still have contact with their mothers.

6. Cheetah

After a gestation period of 90-98 days cheetah mother typically gives birth to a litter of three to five cubs, all of which will stay with her for nearly two years before venturing off on their own. Since the cheetahs aren’t born with survival instincts, the mother have to teach her cubs to many important lessons, such as hunting and avoiding predators. After the learning is done the mother leaves the cubs, who then form a sibling group. Although the cheetahs maybe look cruel in the humans’ eyes, when interacting with their cubs you can see these incredible moms purr just like domestic cats.

7. Polar Bear

Usually left by male soon after mating, the female polar bear is forced to deal with her difficult pregnancy alone. After getting pregnant she needs to eat food enough to gain at least 200 kg (440 lb) and often more than double her body weight. If she doesn’t find enough food, her body will simply reabsorb the fetus. After the required weight is gained, the female digs a maternity den, most often in a snowdrift, where she enters a dormant state similar to hibernation. For the next two months the mother-to-be doesn’t eat food and, what is the most fascinating, she sleeps through the baby’s birth. Can you imagine that process of giving birth? Young cubs, born blind and toothless, live with their mothers for about two years, learning the survival skills of the far north. The mother aggressively protect her young and receive no help from their solitary male mates.

8. Alligator

Alligators are some of the best mothers in the reptile world. A female alligator uses her mouth, feet and tail to build a nest of rotting vegetation on the ground where she lays the eggs. The vegetation produces heat so the female alligator doesn’t have to sit on her eggs, but she is always nearby, protecting them from egg-eating animals and people. An interesting thing is that an individual offspring’s sex has nothing to do with genetics (because they don’t have sex chromosomes) but with the temperature at which eggs are incubated. Nest temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or lower produce females, while those of 34 °C (93 °F) or higher produce males. Once the babies are born the mama gator will load them into her jaw and carry them into the water, where she will continue to care for them for about a year if they remain in the area.

9. Koala

After 35 day pregnancy, the koala gives birth to a 20 mm long baby referred as a joey, which is blind, hairless and earless. During the next six months the joey remains hidden in the pouch, only feeding on milk, and during this time it grows eyes, fur and ears. Soon after that stage, the joey will begin to explore outside of the pouch and make the transition from milk to eucalyptus leaves. Since the baby koalas are not born with the ability to detoxify their favorite food – highly poisonous eucalyptus leaves, they have to rely to their mothers’ help. The koala mom helps it’s baby build up it’s tolerance by producing a substance called “pap” which is a specialised form of her own feces. This way the mother passes to her joey the micro organisms which allow the baby to digest the eucalyptus leaves.

10. Elephant

The main reason the elephants deserve to be placed on our list of 10 most amazing Animal Moms is the fact that they give birth to the biggest babies in the world after 22 month long pregnancy, which is the longest gestation period of any land animal. The elephant gives birth to a calf that typically weighs over 100 kilograms and stands over 70 cm tall. After the calf is born the mother’s social life revolves around breeding, raising and protecting her baby. Since the baby is born nearly blind it has to rely on the mother’s trunk for navigation. Fortunately, they live in a matriarchal society and all members of the female group participate in the care of the young. The mother typically selects several baby-sitters or “allomothers” that help in every aspect of raising the calf. While the calf is with its allomothers, the mother has more free time to feed herself in order to provide her baby with about 11 liters of nutritious milk per day.