May 3, 2010

Nominations For The World's Worst Mothers

Nominations for the world's worst mothers . . . in the Animal Kingdom, that is!

We all want to believe that animal mothers always take good care of their young.  But they don't always!

A female ostrich leaves her eggs immediately after she lays them.  It is the male that keeps the eggs warm so they hatch. He is the one who looks after the young and teaches them to live on their own.  (photo by Darrensp,

A Magellanic Penguin mother will lay two eggs and want both to hatch.  Her "worst mother" tendencies show up when she gives 90% of the fish to one chick.  Of course, that one grows and grows while the smaller chick cries pitifully for food and dies in the coldness of Antarctica.  A Royal Penguin mother lays two eggs every season.  The second egg is over a half larger than the first egg laid, so the mother simply rolls the first egg out of the nest.  So long, baby Royal!

Black Bears want to have two or three cubs in their litters.  It takes just as much time and involvement to raise just one cub as to raise twins or triplets.  So, often when a black mama bear has just one cub, she will abandon it, hoping to give her efforts to raising a larger litter the next time.  Apparently just one cub simply isn't worth the effort!  (Photo by Eppic,

The African Black Eagle is definitely in the running for one of the worst animal mothers.  Usually she lays two eggs.  But then mommy eagle will feed only one chick.  The stronger chick will eventually peck the weaker chick to death.  Mommy just looks on, emotionless while one of her babies is being killed.

We usually think of  lionesses feeding and caring for all the cubs in their particular pride.  However, when a new male takes over the group, he kills any cubs in order to keep them from eventually challenging him for his position as head of the pride.  The lionesses allow all of this to happen without objecting.  And, of course, not having young cubs, caused the lionesses to go into heat sooner, enabling the new head male to begin his own dynasty. 

The cuckoo is, in my opinion, the laziest of all mothers!  She will lay her egg in another bird's nest. So another mother takes on the job of hatching and raising the baby cuckoo.   The cuckoo egg usually hatches before the other eggs so the cuckoo chick grows faster than the other baby birds.  The smaller birds are pushed out of the nest and die.  Then the cuckoo gets all the attention of the adoptive parents.

Can you add any other "worst mothers in the animal kingdom?"

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