10 Animal Mothers Who Are More Affectionate Than Meets the Eye
Some of these animals may get a bad rap, or maybe some of them just look ferocious because they don't have fur. One thing's for sure, though: Despite appearances, they all make excellent mothers.
Crocodiles have superb maternal instincts: They construct a large nest, which they watch over diligently for three months. A mother will carry newborn babies in her powerful jaws until she finds suitable waters. She'll even use her jaws to help condition the eggs for hatching, moving them around and (gently) applying small amounts of pressure. Don't mess with these creatures once they hatch; the mother crocodile is a ferocious guardian.
2. Giant Pacific octopuses
It might be hard to imagine the giant pacific octopus as a kind-hearted soul, but moms take great strides for their young. The octopus will watch over her eggs - all 18,000-plus of them! - for as long as seven months. In order to ensure they're getting enough oxygen and nutrients, she uses her arms or siphon to spread fresh water over them. During this time she does not eat and will usually die after they have hatched.
Despite their bad (and often undeserved) reputation, rats are super affectionate moms. These attentive mamas lick and clean their babies to make sure they're well-groomed, and they know the meaning of "it takes a village": Mothers often live together and help raise each others' young.
The hippo is one of the most ferocious animals in Africa, but she definitely knows how to parent. Hippo mothers nurse and care for their offspring for 18 long months-now that's dedication. If you need proof of their loyalty, just look at the sad tale of this mother, who tragically lost her child. In a few cases, hippos have felt so maternal that they've even helped out other species.
The anteater comes equipped with pointy claws, a 140-pound frame and a tongue that can withstand the desperate stings of thousands of ants. That may make her sound pretty intimidating, but she's a great mom. The female anteater carries her baby on her back and will nurse him for two months. This piggybacking behavior helps the mother to camouflage her baby, protecting him from predators.
6. Elephant seals
The elephant seal is a true sight to behold with her 1,300-pound frame. These cuddly moms know the meaning of sacrifice: They won't eat for an entire month while they are nursing their pup on land, and their pups love mom so much that they can recognize her based on only her voice. Elephant seal mothers are so maternal that they've even been known to adopt baby seal orphans.
7. Polar bears
If you thought that polar bears were powerful, ruthless warriors, then you were right! But these 500-plus-pound mothers stay with their young for more than two years to make sure that they've learned enough life skills to survive on their own. Don't be surprised if you see them cuddling as well as play-fighting.
Wolverines may be aggressive toward different species, but among themselves their affection levels run high. You may find these moms gently caressing their kids' paws or engaging in a playful wrestling match. Wolverine mothers take care of their children for up to a year to make sure they're ready to strike out on their own. Bonus: Unlike many species, the father will also help to teach and raise the kids.
9. Emperor scorpions
With large claws and an equally threatening stinger, it's surprising that the emperor scorpion has a soft side. But after her babies hatch, this dedicated mother will haul her babies (all 30 of them!) around on her back. She continues this piggyback riding expedition until her children are old enough to be on their own.
10. Red-knobbed hornbills
Despite her piercing stare and intimidating beak, the red-knobbed hornbill is a great mom. In order to provide a nest for her babies, she seals herself inside a tree-for four long months. Don't even think about getting too close: This strong mama is a fierce protecter of her eggs and any new hatchlings.