Mother’s Day is the occasion upon which children stop and say ‘Ëœthank you’ to moms the world over. Homemade cards express gratitude for countless meals cooked, wounds dressed and hugs given. Animal moms, on the other hand, never get any thanks. Which one is the top animal mom and what does she have to do to earn this title?
Top Animal Mom: Octopus shows supreme dedication to its eggs
Who would have thought that cephalopods would produce the top animal moms? The intelligence of these creatures is already well known, but the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology outlines that the mother octopus lays an average 50,000 eggs. She clusters them and attaches them to the ceiling of her den.
From then on — for an astonishing 150 to 364 days — she stays with the eggs, aerates them, cleans them and protects them. She does not leave to feed. Not surprisingly, this animal mom dies as soon as the eggs are hatched. Many of her babies fall victim to a variety of marine life; those that survive into adulthood may have a five-year life span.
First Runner Up: Bats parent while hanging on by their nails
You might not think of heartwarming photos showing animal moms and babies when picturing bats, but these mammals are actually superb at caring for their young. The Smithsonian explains that bats become animal moms by hanging head up in a cave, giving birth. Catching the youngster before it can fall to the deadly ground below, she envelopes it in a pouch.
Bat moms may carry babies with them when feeding for the first few days. As the little bats get bigger and heavier, moms help them cling to the wall or ceiling of their caves and leave the little ones behind while feeding. Unlike their unencumbered fellow-bats, the moms return frequently to check up on — and feed — their babies. This process continues for about three weeks, until the babies are grown up and able to fly on their own.
Second Runner Up: Koalas exemplify attachment parenting (literally)
Of all the animal moms and their babies, Koalas are the most “paw on” by far. Being marsupials, the animal mom gives birth after only 35 days; Michigan State University experts explain that the hairless Joey climbs into its mother’s pouch and continues its development for another five months.
When the little koala is between five and eight months old, it leaves the pouch for short periods of time but returns for safety. Once it is too big to return to the pouch, it will climb onto its mother’s back and ride there until it is about 12 months old.
University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology: “Enteroctopus dofleini”
Smithsonian: “Bat Facts”
Michigan State University: “Breeding and reproduction”