Many animals only care for their offspring for a short time or not at all. So, you might think that humans are the most dedicated at raising their young. But, you’d be wrong! Many animals go to great lengths to ensure that their children grow up to be healthy, self-sufficient and continue to carry on the species. Below are 5 of these astonishing animal parents!
These animals may look like earthworms, but they are actually amphibians that live underground in most rainforests around the world. Caecilian babies are fed by a fluid that the mother secretes from her coaca. It sounds similar to the way most animal mothers feed their offspring, but these mommas take it to a whole other level by allowing her infants to actually eat her skin which is filled with essential nutrients and fats. Don’t worry. The skin grows back every few days, so they don’t completely consume her and she is able to continue to feed them.2. Clownfish
Most fish species just lay their eggs and go on their merry way. But, not clownfish! Clownfish parents create a home for their young in an anemone so that the stinging anemone will help protect them. Since they excrete a mucus that protects them from the stings, clownfish aren’t harmed by the anemone.
The fathers clean the fertilized eggs 24/7 until they hatch 7 – 10 days later. After hatching, both parents then “fan” the babies with their fins which supplies them with a continuous flow of nutrient and oxygen dense water.
3. Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs also work together to raise their young. Once the fertilized eggs are laid on the rainforest floor, the father frog urinates on them to keep them constantly moistened. He also fights off any enemies that may come along.
Since the babies will actually try to eat each other, after they hatch the mother frog carries them one by one on her back up into the treetops where she deposits them in their own little swimming hole. She keeps returning to each tadpole’s pond to deposit an unfertilized egg for the baby to eat until their maturity – about 50 days later.
The father also sticks around and continues to protect his offspring from enemies.
4. African Elephant
Elephants are one of my favorite animals on the planet, and their dedication to their young is one of the reasons why. African elephants take the term “it takes a village” to heart when it comes to their babies. They travel in herds of up to 70 females, with one female matriarch.
After birth, the females gather around the new mother and encourage the calf to nurse. They even go so far as to nurse a calf that isn’t their own. All of the females in the herd keeps an eye on each other’s babies and will form a circle, facing out, with their young in the middle, when threatened by an enemy. Even young elephants will help an infant climb a riverbank, if needed.
Mother elephants continue to care for their young until they are in their teens. Sound familiar?
5. Giant Pacific Octopus
Of all of the astonishing parents on this list, the Giant Pacific Octopus takes the prize. The female lays a clutch of eggs that can number in the hundreds of thousands, then keeps a watch over them – fanning them with water to keep them clean and well-oxygenated – for 6 months or more until they hatch.
Since she has to continuously do this to keep them alive, she doesn’t eat or rest the entire time! Once the eggs hatch, the mother octopus dies.