Hallmark holiday or not, Mother's Day is the one special day in the year when we celebrate the women who brought us into the world. While human moms can be pretty awesome, animal moms deserve their own special day as well. Of course, animal moms don't really care about that, but let's take the time to honor them anyway.
While some animal moms aren't really all that great, others go to great lengths to ensure the survival of their young. They may not celebrate Mother's Day (because they're animals and this holiday is a human construct), but they do deserve at least some recognition. Here are five of the best moms in the animal world.
One of a mom's most important roles is that of being our first teachers. In certain animals, moms take on a similar role. Meerkat moms, in particular, need to make sure that their pups know how to avoid ingesting ingesting scorpion venom.
Meerkats in southern Africa mainly feed on scorpions, but they need to be careful in handling their venomous prey. The ability to avoid getting stung by scorpions is a skill that meerkats need to learn. Thus, meerkat moms need to teach their young how to disable scorpion stingers. After this, they'll give the still-alive scorpion to meerkat pups to practice on.
Many whale species boast attentive mothers that won't mind nursing their calves for a year or more. This is a huge commitment, especially given the fact that whales need to travel long distances from their breeding grounds with their calves in tow.
Nursing and traveling can be tough on human moms, but human moms don't have the threat of predators constantly looming over their heads. Predators like orcas are especially fond of whale calves, so whale moms need to keep a close eye on their young. Whale mothers have at times put themselves in danger to fight predatory orcas off their calf. If there's an animal mom that deserves at least a Mother's Day card, it's one that had to fight off a dangerous predator to protect its young.
Being a mom to a sea otter pup is hard. Sometimes, otter moms need to make a choice between staying alive or keeping their pup in their care.
Raising a sea otter pup takes up a lot of energy. It can make a mom lose 133% of her body mass. Thus, sea otter moms need to eat twice as much food as they do when they don't have a pup to raise. Otter moms can spend as many as 14 hours a day looking for food to sustain herself and her pup.
Talk about long hours at work.
In other animals, the hard work begins once they give birth. For pandas, however, even the process of getting pregnant can be quite a struggle.
Panda moms in captivity have a team of humans that help them take care of their young and ensure the baby's survival. Of course, it's not like panda moms in captivity just sit on the couch with their hair in curlers while their human caretakers do all the work.
When pandas are born, they're extremely tiny, blind, and helpless. Mothers carry and cradle their newborns almost all the time until the baby is old enough to move around on its own.
Like sea otters and whales, octopus moms also risk their own well-being to care for their young.
Octopus moms keep constant watch over their eggs. They lay up to several thousand eggs at once, and keeping watch over all of these eggs is a tough job. The moms fan these eggs with siphons, a tube-like organ. This oxygenates the eggs and keeps harmful bacteria from settling on the eggs and damaging their contents.
An octopus mom will not leave her eggs this whole time, not even to eat. A mom can even keep guard over her eggs for up to four and a half years. When the eggs hatch and the babies spread out, the mom then dies.
Octopus moms definitely deserve more than just a Mother's Day card.
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