Happy Mother’s Day: Honoring 10 Caring Animal Moms

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Mother’s Day is a special time to give thanks for all that our Moms have done in our lives. While animals may not be able to express such gratitude, now’s the time to laud the sacrifices of female sea louses that deal with extremely painful childbirths, female strawberry poison arrow frogs that go above and beyond the duties of motherhood, and other animal moms that put the welfare of their kids before everything else.

An Ultimate Sacrifice: Female Sea Louses

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Rodney Dangerfield once talked about getting no respect, but he hardly knew the life of the female sea louse. This crustacean not only has to deal with male sexual partners that impregnate up to 25 females at the same time but goes through a pregnancy that is beyond painful. When ready to give birth, the pregnant sea louses sit back as their babies chew through their insides to emerge in the brave, new world. Sounds painful.

Super Mom: The Female Strawberry Poison Arrow Frog

(Images via: Tropical Rainforests Animals, Plants Are the Strangest People, Biology Reference)

While certainly small in stature at less than an inch long, the female strawberry poison arrow frog literally goes above and beyond when taking on the duties of motherhood. After laying up to five eggs and watching them hatch, the strawberry poison arrow frog carries her tadpoles, one by one on her back, from the rainforest floors up into trees as high as 100 feet. At this point, the mother strawberry poison arrow frog finds individual pools of water in bromeliad leaves for each of her tadpoles, thus setting up mini nurseries that are safe from larger predators. Not done with her super mom duties, the mother strawberry poison arrow frog feeds each of her young with her own unfertilized eggs over the course of 6 to 8 weeks, thus allowing these tadpoles to grow into young frogs without having to eat each other. Isn’t that wholesome?

Alligator Moms: Literally Kissing Their Offspring

(Images via: Hamov Hotov, Arkive, Museum Victoria, Flickr)

In a similar light to the climbing strawberry poison arrow frog, alligator moms go great lengths when it comes to protecting their young, including carrying alligator babies in their jaws for protection. Just think of that scary image. The female alligator ready to snap, with a whole bunch of mischievous and menacing babies in her mouth.

When It Pays to Be a Bully: Dominant Female Mongooses

(Images via: Duke University, BBC, The Animal Files)

Survival of the fittest certainly applies in the world of pregnant female mongooses, with older and more dominant females often relying on extreme bullying — including chasing, scratching and even biting — to chase out subordinate pregnant females and ultimately benefit their own young. Such torture often results in these subordinate mongooses — often middle-aged females between the ages of two and five years old — self-aborting their pregnancies. Consequently, the dominant female mongooses are able to eliminate some competition and provide more advantages to their offspring, including greater access to limited resources.

Collective Parenting: Protective Leaf Monkey Mothers

(Images via: Discovery, Animal Diversity, WCS)

Did you know that all Phayre’s leaf monkeys have an orange hue in their infancy, allowing them to be more easily tracked by parents? While as many as 40 individual Phayre’s leaf monkeys may participate in raising their young, the mother monkeys play an important role of collecting their offspring and running to safety when intruders or potential predators are near. For up to three months or even longer (when the baby Phayre’s leaf monkeys grow darker fur), their mothers will engage in protecting their young while males will do their best to scare away trespassers with loud shouts.

Talk about Devotion: Mama Elephants

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Just like the Phayre’s leaf monkey, a group effort is needed when raising baby elephants. After mother elephants endure 22 months of pregnancy and give birth to 200-pound babies, the female members of the herd, including grandmas, sisters, aunts and even cousins, all chip in to help raise the baby elephants, which are initially born blind.

Speaking of Elephant Mamas, the Elephant Seal

(Images via: Marine Conservation Blog, Oceanwide Images)

Getting pregnant is certainly an arduous endeavor for female elephant seals, which are often impregnated by males that weigh four times more than their general weight of 1,700 pounds. While packing on the pounds during an 11-month gestation period, female elephant seals lose roughly around 600 pounds shortly after giving birth. As any mother can attest, it’s all about sacrifice when raising your kids.

A Two-Year Internship for Cheetah Moms

(Images via: A Frozen Second, Natures Crusaders, Scenic Reflections, Natures Crusaders, The Funniest Etc.)

After giving birth to anywhere from four to six cheetah cubs, mother cheetahs need to be patient, spending up to two years teaching their kids how to avoid predators and hunt for food. Once the baby cheetahs advance from having no survival instincts to learning how to hack it in the wild, the mother cheetahs move on to start the process all over again: get pregnant and raise a handful of new kids.

Empty Nests? Not for Orangutan Mothers

(Images via: Chimp Rescue, Green Daily, L.A. Times Blogs)

While mother cheetahs are able to send their kids off in the wild after two years, mama orangutans aren’t so lucky, spending up to six to seven years nursing their offspring. A major part of being a mother orangutan involves building new nests high up in the trees, each and every night. In the average lifetime of a mother organutan, she will build more than 30,000 homes of branches and foliage for her kids. Talk about dedication.

Getting Busy: Female Octopuses

(Images via: Deep Sea Images)

Female octopuses that aspire to be mothers spend roughly 40 days harvesting more than 50,000 eggs. After laying all of these eggs, these octopuses stand close guard, watching out for predators, providing oxygen by blowing water over these eggs, and even sacrificing time hunting for their own meals. As a result of spending so much time caring for their eggs, some hungry female octopuses will end up chewing off one of their eight arms for their own sustenance. It turns out that some Moms will literally give an arm for their children.

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