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What does childhood look like in the animal world? – I like science

What does childhood look like in the animal world?  - I like science

Estimated time: 4 minutes

Growing in the wild is a huge challenge. Changed weather, hunting for predators, lack of food. Many dangers await young people. Fortunately, some of them can count on parental care. Let’s check what childhood looks like in the animal world and in what species it is carefree!

The first steps of independence

The natural environment is a dynamically changing place. In an instant, new beings are born and die. Each animal must provide for itself the right conditions to live among thousands of neighbours. It is important to find a source of food, water, and adequate shelter from bad weather and enemies as quickly as possible.

All of this is no simple task, especially when you were just born and know very little about the world around you. However, most organisms live on their own. Everyone here has to take care of his well-being and there is no time for feelings.

This approach is completely alien to us. Childhood in the animal world is completely different from our childhoodWe, as individuals, take care of our young children, teaching them independence for a long time. We help take the first and next steps towards adulthood. However, even in the wild, there are species that can count on their caring parents in the first moments of life.

You need a whole village to raise a child – raise children together

The most reliable animals are those that naturally live in larger flocks. For example, elephants who, in addition to a caring mother, can count on the care of aunts. Living in a large group, they take care of their offspring together.

First, a mother protects her baby during one of nature’s longest pregnancies. It takes almost two full years! Immediately after birth, the young herd is waiting for them to begin to take more confident steps. Then together they teach him what is most important, that is, what plants are healthy to eat and how to protect himself from predators.

Read also: Unusual behavior among animals

Little bats also have an interesting childhood. Some species give birth to cubs that are still hanging upside down! However, very often, bats change their position especially for birth. His mother takes good care of the little bat. But sometimes, despite careful care, he has to leave her to get food. Young mothers also stay in the cave – looks like a huge kindergarten! When the mother feeds herself, she returns and searches for her offspring through the high-frequency sounds it makes. After a few weeks, the little bats learn to fly, then hunt, and eventually become completely independent.

A little bit of a man’s hand in upbringing

In nature, the young can often rely on their mother. Parents often move away immediately after the fertilization of the female and do not participate in the upbringing of the offspring. However, there are also true fathers in nature to get a medal!

Among them, one should mention a certain type of fish – stickleback. Immediately after the female lays the eggs, the male fertilizes them and after that decides to take care of the offspring himself. She heroically repels all predators and ensures the peaceful development of her children in the future.

Likewise the father is always at the height of the task and, contrary to appearances, the news of the expansion of the family does not hide his head in the sand.. First, she bravely helps her partner to hatch the eggs by working only night shifts, and after hatching, she protects her children. Over time, it teaches them to find food and deal with dangerous situations.

Emperor penguins are animals that live in huge flocks. Both parents are heavily involved in the care of the children, although at first it may seem that most of the responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the males.

After the egg is laid, the female is exhausted and leaves the egg in the care of her partner. He goes out to eat and charges his strength. During this time, the penguin’s father patiently warms the egg for more than two months, while eating almost nothing. After hatching, he takes care of the young, and after his partner returns, he goes in search of himself. Admittedly, it’s a well-deserved meal after a long time.

Without your parents, you can’t move

Some animals are unwilling or for safety reasons unable to leave their baby even for a moment. In such a situation, the young ones travel with them. However, at first, he is often unable to move at the correct speed yet, which is why he moves connected to his parents’ body. This is how little kids travel.

Although they can swim on their own after hatching, they prefer the free ride on their mother’s back. With their brothers and sisters, they climb her back and cross the water with her. This is one of the reasons why the childhood of this species passed in a family atmosphere.

It is similar with lemurs. They stick to their mother’s fur and jump with her from branch to branch.

childhood in animals

A mother kangaroo and her offspring share a high level of bonding. After gestation for about a month, a small kangaroo measuring only a few centimeters long moves into the mother’s pouch. He stays there for the following months, when his mother feeds him milk, and his body slowly grows bigger and becomes independent.

Summary

Childhood in the animal world can be very different. Some species like to take care of their young, and others, such as the cuckoo, prefer to give their young to someone else. It’s good that we can always count on our parents. After all, there is nothing happier and happier than the first years of our lives!

Sources:

www.wwf.pl/aktualnosci/7-niesamowików-mam-ze-swiata-zwierzat#:~:text=Ci%C4%85%C5%BCa%20s%C5%82oni%20nale%C5%BCy%20do%20najd %C5%82u%C5%BCer,%2C%20a%20 Less Frequent%20%E2%80%93%20two%20m%C5%82ode.

www.dzikiezycie.pl/archiwum/2018/gru-2018/zwierzece-rodzicielstwo-jest-fascynujace-rozmowa-z-marta-alicja-trzeciak

www.conservation.org/blog/3-reasons-elephants-make-the-best-mothers

www.animals.mom.com/mother-elephants-after-giving-birth-5673.html

www.blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/good-dads-and-not-so-good-dads-in-the-animal-kingdom/

www.national-geographic.pl/artykul/kangury-zycie-w-torbie#Kangur+%E2%80%93+rozmna%C5%BCanie

www.nathab.com/blog/the-9-best-dads-in-the-animal-kingdom/

www.smallscience.hbcse.tifr.res.in/how-bats-care-for-their-babies/#:~:text=Mother%20bats%20hold%20the%20pups,pups%20very%20similar%20to%20him.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5792893/

Monica Tarasek
author

Monica Tarasek

I am constantly discovering the beauty of the world of biology and chemistry. I firmly believe that all complex natural phenomena can be explained in a simple and accessible way. I graduated in Biochemistry at Jagiellonian University. In my spare time, I smile a lot, walk with my head in the clouds, and when I am not developing scientifically, I achieve myself artistically.

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