We all know and love a supermum – someone who goes above and beyond for their children, while juggling all the different aspects of home and work life. But this amazing behaviour isn’t unique to humans – the animal kingdom has supermums, too!
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can find one such creature – the scorpion.
It’s common knowledge that women’s pregnancy lasts for nine months. But long-suffering animal mums can see their terms lasting for several years. According to a May 2015 report in the National Geographic, not being pregnant may be a common state in the human world, but in the animal world, being pregnant or lactating is considered to be the natural state.
Here, we acknowledge five animal mothers who deserve a Mother’s Day of their own, for all their hard work:
1. Deep-sea octopus mum
The Graneledone boreopacifica, or deep-sea octopus is more devoted than most, as a mother. Researchers in the US published a July 2014 study in the journal PLoS ONE, about a deep-sea octo-mum off the coast of California, who set a new record. The octopus guarded her eggs for a whopping 4.5 years – the longest known developmental period for any animal. What’s more, octopuses are known for taking their dedication to the extreme. Shallow-water octopuses usually guard their eggs for a few months, and in that time, the mothers do not eat at all. Once their young ones hatch, the mums die. It was the same situation with the supermum octopus researchers found off California. They never saw the octopus eat, even when they used a robot to entice her with some crab. However, the researchers did find some crab carcasses nearby, so they think the octopus snacked on predators who were trying to steal her eggs.
2. Frilled shark
Can you fathom being pregnant for 3.5 years? It’s a reality for the female frilled shark, a deepwater species that doesn’t lay eggs, but gives birth to live young. At a time, the shark can deliver between two to ten offspring.
While emperor scorpions remain pregnant for five to nine months, the African species called Opisthacanthus asper is reportedly pregnant for 18 months! After delivery, the scorpion mums don’t get a break – their babies ride on their backs until they’re fully grown.
4. African elephant
The largest land animal is reputed for being a good mother, but her trials and troubles begin long before the baby is born. African elephants can remain pregnant for about 22 months, which is the longest known pregnancy for any mammal. One reason why these elephants are able to reproduce frequently is because they have an unusually long estrous cycle – the duration of time when they’re receptive to a mate. In people, it’s about 28 days, but in elephants, it’s between 15 to 16 weeks.
5. Killer whale
Highly social animals, killer whales live in pods of between 2 to 15 individuals, with a matriarch at the head. The killer whale’s pregnancy can last between 15 to 18 months, but luckily for her, mum is able to receive a lot of help. Her mother, sisters and aunts often pitch in with childcare. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child – in this case, an orca!