Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
The last thing modern moms need is yet another reason to feel that they're not doing a good enough job. In the animal kingdom, there are plenty of mothers who make your efforts pale in comparison, but don't worry — there are others who will make you feel a lot better about yourself this Mother's Day.
While nine months may seem like forever for some human mothers, pregnancy lasts much longer for many animals. So be glad that you're not a rhino, who's pregnant for 16 months, a sperm whale (16 to 18 months) or an elephant (22 months). Be even more glad that you're not an elephant who's just a little bit overdue: Last year, an elephant gave birth at a British zoo after being pregnant for 700 days. Yes, that's almost two years.
Mammals don't have the worst of it, either: An alpine salamander's pregnancy can last three years, and it's believed that the frilled shark may carry offspring for three and a half years.
Speaking of toting around babies — along with extra weight — polar bears gain 400 pounds in pregnancy!
Still, you're both better off than the kiwi bird, who's about the size of a chicken but whose egg is six times the size of a chicken egg. The egg can take up so much room that the kiwi can't fit food in her stomach and has to fast for the last two or three days of her pregnancy. And then she has to lay the egg, which can weigh up to 20 percent of the mother's weight — the equivalent of a 120-pound woman giving birth to a 24-pound infant.
Every neighborhood has that overachieving mom who makes everyone else feel (and look) bad, and the same is true for the animal kingdom. Most cold-blooded animals have an enviable mothering style — like frogs, who lay thousands of eggs, and then abandon them, figuring that at least a few will survive on their own.
But some frog species apparently disapprove of this method. The mountain chicken frog deposits her eggs in a burrow in the ground, and once her tadpoles hatch, she feeds them by laying more eggs for them to eat. Certain types of poison dart frogs also lay eggs for their tadpoles to eat, and then spoil them even more, giving each tadpole an individual room, such as a little pool of water in a plant or a small hole in a tree.
What to feed the kids is always a source of contention for competitive moms. Our fellow mammals have no choice but to breast-feed, and if you found it hard, be thankful that you're not a harp seal. They nurse their young for 12 days without eating, losing about seven pounds per day. It's an effective post-pregnancy diet plan, but not a very pleasant one.
If you think producing milk is taxing, mammals don't have the worst of it when it comes to feeding their young with their own bodies. There's a type of amphibian called a caecelian, which has risen to the challenge in rather repulsive ways by growing an extra layer of skin every three days that the young scrape off and eat.
But at least those moms survive the process. For some kinds of spiders, the young's first meal is their mother. Although these spiders only lay one clutch of eggs in their lives and die afterward, the hungry babies certainly don't wait to eat — they start chowing down on her while she's still alive.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Staff at the Marine Mammal Center found
a baby sea otter floating alone and were
able to reunite the pup with her…
Do cats just think of us as human sofa
cushions or is there more to this common
behavior? Here's what our expert…
Dr. Debbie Mandell shares the signs of
heat stress, plus which breeds may have
conditions that could put them in…
From carriers to litterboxes, it's a good
idea to have these essentials on hand
before bringing home a new feline.
Intestinal parasites can be dangerous for pets and people. Our expert shares how you can protect your dog from them.
A rare breed that's often mistaken for a
Chihuahua, the Russian Toy is a tiny dog
known for his big personality.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.