Human mothers aren’t the only ones to go to great lengths to ensure the health and survival of their beloved babies. The animal kingdom also boasts some pretty incredible mothers, some of whom use some strange techniques to make sure their offspring will thrive. Enjoy this list of the 7 most devoted animal moms.
Giant Pacific Octopus
Octopus are known for their clever, and often mischievous, ways, but who would have guessed that they’re also one of the most dedicated animal moms on the planet? The giant Pacific Octopus spends 53 months (that’s almost 4.5 years!) caring for her clutch of over 50,000 eggs in her carefully guarded den before the babies are ready to be released into the depths of the Pacific ocean. She lays the eggs one by one, and then carefully braids the free floating babies together and attaches them to the walls of a small, well-hidden cave. Here in this cave she will stay for years, while the babies develop in their egg sacs.
The Stegodyphus Lineatus Spider
These spiders, also known as desert spiders, have some of the strangest mothering processes of the animal kingdom. Similar to the giant Pacific octopus, these spider mamas must die in order for their young to live.
In this gruesome twist on the octopus’s sad tale, the babies actively kill and eat their mama. After a month of feeding regurgitated meals to her new hatchlings, the mama spider willingly invites her murderous babies to climb over her body, where they inject her with lethal venom and digestive enzymes, and then devour her. Once they have eaten their loving mother, the murderous rampage continues as the strongest and fastest of the baby spiders cannibalize their siblings before finally leaving this web of nightmares and moving out into the world. This mama gives her life, and in one of the most gnarly ways possible, to ensure her babies can be strong enough to survive in this utterly weird world we live in.
Opossum mamas are truly some of the most dedicated mothers of the animal kingdom. These marsupials carry their tiny newborns in their warm, cozy pouch for the first 2 months of their lives, nursing on their mother full-time. Once the baby opossums are able to finally venture outside of their mother’s protective and nourishing pouch, mama opossum still carries her babies like the heavy lifting, hard-working mom she is. For the next three months, this devoted mother continues to carry her many kiddos on her back, helping to ensure their safety as they becomes strong and independent enough to finally carry their own weight. The opossum mom goes to great lengths to make sure her adorable, furry offspring are taken care of, and if this means hauling around her ever-increasing-in-size-babies around on her back for months, then so be it.
Koala moms aren’t afraid to go to some pretty gross lengths to care for their young. The diet of koalas consists of just one thing- eucalyptus leaves, which are highly poisonous. Adult koalas counteract this poison through having a digestive system lined with a specific kind of bacteria that allows them to safely digest their deadly meal.
With big round puppy eyes and a soft furry body, baby harp seals are perhaps the cutest newborns on this list. They also may be some of the most greedy. When baby harp seals are born, they are completely dependent on their dedicated seal mamas. The harp seal mother fiercely protects her newborn against potential predators and guards them for the first two weeks of their life in an icy nursery of other moms and pups. During this time, the mom constantly nurses the baby harp seal, while eating nothing, losing about 6 pounds a day. Conversely, during this time, the baby seal feasts on the highly fat-rich milk, and gains about 5 pounds a day. This dedicated mama may not commit the ultimate sacrifice like some of the other moms on this list, but she certainly goes through her own hardships to ensure the health and strength of her young one.
The magnificently colored wasps are not only beautiful insects, but they make dedicated mothers (in an admittedly disturbing manner). When a mother jewel wasp is ready to lay her egg she embarks on a truly disturbing journey. First, she hunts down a cockroach, stinging it in two specific places that essentially zombifies the helpless insect. The venomous stings ensure that the cockroach is temporarily paralyzed and its escape reflex is disabled before the mama wasp pulls the unlucky roach by its antenna into a burrow where it lays its egg on the cockroach’s abdomen. The mother from hell then fills in the burrow entrance, and, after three days, the egg hatches producing a jewel wasp larva. The larva immediately begins to feed on the still living zombified roach, chewing its way into the roach’s abdomen where it lives for another 8 days.
There’s nothing more comforting or nurturing than a mama singing a soft, sweet lullaby to her baby. Think human moms are the only ones to sing lullabies? Think again. Pig mamas are known to sing sweet snort-filled melodies to their precious piglets while they nurse. The song begins with the mama pig letting out a specific series of grunts to let her little ones know that it’s time to nurse and also to signal that she is about to lay down and that they must move out of the way.