Animal Babies That Survive on Their Own from Day One

Fagjun | Published 2017-09-29 09:57

Some animal babies, particularly those of these following species, don't need their parents' care right from the moment they're born.


It seems counterintuitive to the evolutionary need to ensure that your offspring survives to pass on your genes, but some animal parents are wired to leave their young to survive on their own. While some species, like humans or penguins, take care of their offspring even when they've flown the nest, some animals don't ever even meet their young. However, this doesn't mean that the babies will have trouble surviving. It also doesn't mean that the parents don't try to make sure that their offspring have good odds of surviving once they hatch.



Moths and Butterflies


A large blue butterfly

[Photo By PJC&Co - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,]



Many animal babies receive varying amounts of care from their parents after birth. However, moths and butterflies don't make such great parents. Unlike other insects, who take care of their young up to a certain degree, moths and butterflies take a pretty hands-off approach to rearing their young. Moths and butterflies lay their eggs on host plants, which actually seem to take better care of the eggs than the insects do. Some of these plants secrete toxic chemicals that keep predators away from the eggs.


The large blue butterfly in particular lays eggs near ant nests, letting the ants take care of the caterpillars. Large blue butterfly caterpillars excrete a certain substance that makes them smell like ant larvae, fooling the ants into taking the caterpillars down to their nest. The caterpillars subsequently devour the ant young in the nest.







It's uncommon for birds to abandon their young. Galapagos penguins, for example, still take care of their offspring even when said offspring has already grown and fledged from the nest. Megapodes, however, are the exception to the rule. These are birds that resemble chickens, and are native to parts of South East Asia and east Australia. They are also so hands-off with their parenting that they don't even incubate their eggs themselves.


Instead, they take rotting vegetation and build mounds, which can be as big as cars, in which they lay their eggs. After building these mounds, the most that parent megapodes do is adjust the temperature in the mounds by adding or removing vegetation. When the chicks hatch, they climb out and run off, never even seeing their parents. In just a day, however, the chicks can learn how to fly. Talk about independent animal babies.



Labord's Chameleon




It's one thing to never see your parents, but it's another thing to have grownups so uninvolved that you never see the adults of your species at all. That's what the beginning of life is for baby Labord's chameleons.


However, it's not like the adults have any choice in the matter. The chameleons lay their eggs before winter, which hatch before the rains come in the summer. In total, the embryos take eight to nine months to develop in their eggs. During that time, however, the previous generation will have grown old and died.


This puts the adults of the species in a precarious situation, and gives their young quite a heavy responsibility compared to other animal babies. If they are unable to reproduce at the right time, they'll never get the chance to do so and their population will be decimated.

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