The animal kingdom is full of wonderful moms who care for their offspring, often putting their children above themselves. Unfortunately, not all animal moms deserve praise. Due to harsh environments or encroaching predators, many animals abandon their young. If there were Child Protective Services for animals, many of the kingdom’s mothers would be jailed.
Mother is a Snake
There’s no maternal instinct in the reptilian world of snakes. Snake mothers abandon their eggs soon after laying them, never to return again. Sometimes, a female snake will give birth to a live snake, after having incubated the eggs inside her body. As soon as the creature has left her body a mother snake slithers away never to return again. Lucky for snakes, infants hatch with the ability to take care of themselves.
Eggs in One Basket
Lizards, like geckos and chameleons, abandon their eggs to the wild. This is likely why female lizards typically lay such a high amount of eggs. Most of their eggs and offspring fall victim to the elements, so there's safety in numbers. Eggs may be sniffed out by predators and eaten before they’ve even hatched. If the egg survives and the baby hatches, the baby could be attacked by a predator or die of starvation. The ones that make it grow up to abandon their own children, something that ensures the survival of their species.
Mom Likes You Best
Some animal mothers abandon offspring in favor of a single child. Pandas almost always have twins, but abandon one twin to the wild. A panda mom makes her selection based on strength, choosing the child she believes has the better chance of survival.
Hooded grebes swim away with the first chick that hatches, abandoning any remaining eggs. It pays to be the first born when your mom’s a hooded grebe.
Old Enough to Go It Alone
Some animals, like harp seals, stay with their young for a couple weeks before abandoning them to the elements. Harp seals are notorious for leaving their pups after approximately 12 days. A harp seal mom leaves her pups on floating ice, after she’s finished lactating. The mortality rate for harp seals is 20 to 30 percent because the elements are harsh, predators are near and they starve until their pelage comes in and they’re able to swim.
Female rabbits feed their young for a period of 25 days, but during that time she’ll avoid her nest. She’s not doing this because she’s selfish, but rather because she’s attempting to protect her babies from would-be predators. Adult rabbits carry a strong scent that predators recognize. By avoiding her nest, where her little ones don’t yet carry a strong scent, she’s essentially protecting them from anything that may be tracking her.
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Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.