What are the world’s worst animal moms?

Published 6:46 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

During Mother’s Day, we always celebrate how generous, caring and compassionate our mothers are. I know my mom is awesome.

Mother’s day got me thinking about animal moms, but since I’ve already written about great animal moms, I wondered what the worst mothers in the animal kingdom are. So I decided to find out. Here are the worst moms that I could find:

  • Rabbit moms make a nice, cozy nest for their babies, but they only come to visit their babies for a few minutes around dawn and dusk. To be fair, this is so they don’t draw the attention of predators to their nests. But if you only saw your mom briefly two times a day when you were a newborn, that would obviously be pretty rough. After about a month, the momma rabbit is done nursing the babies and they are on their own.


  • Panda moms will sometimes have twins, but instead of raising two cubs, the mother will often pick the stronger of the two to raise and abandon the other one. Once again, the animal moms have a reason: They do this because bamboo isn’t very nutritious. It takes a lot of bamboo to be able to produce enough milk for even one cub. They would rather have one strong cub then two weak ones. Also, panda moms are so big and their cubs are so small that sometimes they will accidentally crush them.


  • Black Eagle moms raise some very unfriendly kids. Most moms will break up a fight between their kids, especially if it’s getting violent. But not black eagles — these moms will let their offspring fight it out, even if that means one of them gets killed. This is evidently not so uncommon among birds and is a survival-of-the-fittest kind of behavior.


  • Skink moms will eat their eggs. When a mother skink has laid eggs but there are lots of predators around, she will eat her eggs before the predators are able to get them. The theory behind this behavior is that she gets the nutrients from the eggs and the predators don’t. That makes sense, but it still doesn’t seem very nice.


  •  Hamster moms often will eat some of their babies. Hamsters are usually adorable, but this is a pretty horrifying behavior. It’s thought that hamster moms might do this because they aren’t sure how much food there will be. A hamster mom will eat some of the weaker babies to make sure there is enough food for the rest.


  •  House sparrows moms will visit the nests of other females that her partner has mated with and kill the young. This is so her partner will spend more time with her offspring instead of the other females’. It’s nice for parents to pay attention to their kids, but that’s a pretty terrible way to make it happen.


While a lot of these actions seems bizarre to us, in the animal world, it’s a whole different ball game. These animal mothers might not seem so great, but they’re still mothers in the end. And none of us would be here without our mothers.

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

Cheetah mom’s will raise up to eight cubs at a time, all by herself. She will stay with those cubs for a year, teaching them everything they need to know to survive.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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