While human mums are no doubt dedicated, there are countless examples of amazing mothers in the animal kingdom. Often putting themselves in danger for the safety of their offspring, there are few animals brave enough to get between a mother animal and her baby.
To recognise Mother’s Day, we honour some of the various animals mums from regions where Aurora Expeditions visit. Warning: cuteness ahead!
Antarctica – The Penguin Mum
In the harsh, cold conditions of Antarctica, penguin mothers play a key role in keeping their eggs incubated and protected. Take the Chinstrap penguin, for example.
Chinstrap parents alternate every 5-10 days to ensure that their eggs are warm and safe before they hatch around six weeks later. Of course, with the threat of leopard seals, sheathbills and brown skuas, Chinstrap penguin mothers protect their eggs and newly-born chicks with their life – making sure they grow strong enough to venture out to sea by themselves.
Arctic – The Polar Bear Mum
Living in similarly cold conditions, polar bear mothers must also work hard to protect their young cubs against the bitter Arctic weather. As a mammal, polar bears give birth to live young. These cubs are very small and helpless for the first stage of their lives , with closed eyes for the first month, meaning their mothers must keep close watch on them.
Of course, the dedication of polar bear mothers can’t be overlooked. For 30 months (2.5 years), mums nurse their cubs while many follow their mothers around the Arctic for much longer than this!
Kimberley – The Croc Mum
Often mothers go above and beyond for their offspring and the Kimberley crocodile mother is no different. After laying between 40 and 60 eggs in a nest, she will guard it from predators with her life. However, there is also a softer, nurturing side to the crocodile mother – gently splashing water on the eggs to ensure they don’t dry out.
After three months of protection, this saltwater croc mother will dig the eggs out when she starts to hear the unmistakable sound of her young chirping.
Patagonia – The Guanaco Mum
Related to camels and alpacas, guanaco mothers face difficult conditions to provide for their young. The Patagonian environment can present bad weather and many predators looking for food. As such, a mother’s protection is key for survival.
For the first year of their lives, guanaco young are supported by their mothers and the wider group, following their mums everywhere. With males leaving the herd after 12 months, this time is important for teaching skills and behaviours for the future.
Ecuador – The Tortoise Mum
Ecuador tortoises are taught independence from a very young age. After their mother selects a safe and secure location to lay their eggs, the young hatch a couple of months later. In fact, some mother tortoises can be quite protective of their nests and will do their upmost to ensure their young have the best chance of survival.
By providing this sound base for the start of their lives, newly-born tortoises can begin to roam and grow at their own pace.
Whether human or animal, mothers play a key part in the lives of their offspring. Make sure you celebrate your mother this weekend and show her how special she really is.