Best and Worst Animal Mothers

Best and Worst?

Mother’s Day is generally reserved for honoring our mothers, wives, and even grandmothers. But since we are National Geographic, why not take some time to honor animal mothers who excel at raising their young? And while we’re at it, why not point out other animal mothers who could use some coaching to do a better job?

Australia’s grey kangaroo moms are an obvious choice for “Best” mother, carrying around their little ones in pouches for nearly a year. But you may not know that they are worthy of a “Worst” nomination, too. Because, at their most vulnerable stage, the tiny newborn, no bigger than a jellybean, is expected to crawl from the uterus to the external pouch entirely on its own, with absolutely no help from mom! (see video above)

Good Mother

Polar bears have gained a lot of attention due to dwindling habitats caused by melting snow and ice in the Arctic region. In the next video, you’ll see how snow and ice are a major part of raising cubs: from helping to conceal their lair for a 5-month long hibernation, to enabling them to hunt and catch their meals.

It’s rough early going for the newborns. About half of polar bear cubs don’t make it through the first year.

BTW, if you like cute, you’ll like this video.

Bad Mother

How about a mother that raises her kids inside a corpse? That might be bad enough, but worse yet, the burying beetle also eats its offspring, depending on whether there’s enough food for the entire family.

These beetles prepare the corpse, often a rodent, for their offspring to use as food. The mom preserves the meal by secreting chemicals over the dead body to prevent it from spoiling, turning the corpse into a well-stocked fridge to feed their offspring. (video below)

Good Mother

The walrus female could be classified as a “world-class” mother. Even though a baby weighs a hundred pounds at birth, mom gives plenty of nurturing love, providing milk for up to two years. The calf gains weight at the rate of about a pound-and-a-half a day.

One of the mother’s most important tasks is teaching the young one how to pull all that weight out of the water. But when they’re in the water, motherly love takes on a human-like characteristic: lots of hugs. (at the end of video).

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Changing Planet

Jeff has been a Senior Video Producer with National Geographic for over 10 years. He manages day-to-day operation of National Geographic's online video player and writes, produces and narrates videos. A video news journalist for more than 25 years, his previous experience includes Senior Producer for Discovery Science Channel, Executive Producer for a regional cable news channel, and News Director, News Anchor, Producer and Reporter for several local network affiliates in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, DC and West Virginia.