Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and with it comes the perfect excuse to celebrate moms around the world—including those in the animal kingdom. Across the country’s rugged wilderness, maternal creatures are altering their environments, lifestyles, and bodies to protect their young and help them thrive for generations to come. Here are just some of the most hard-working, devoted, and loving moms you’ll find in the Candian wild.
When they are born, baby walruses weigh more than a hundred pounds. The mother provides milk for up to two years, where a calf goes on to gain a pound-and-a-half per day. Before a calf moves on, one of the most important tasks of the mother is to teach the young to pull their weight out of the water.
Gray whales travel thousands of miles from the cold Arctic waters to the lagoons off the coast of California and Mexico where they give birth in warm, predator-free waters. Most females give reproduce every other year, though annual births have been reported. After a 13.5 month gestation period, calves are born in mid-January, measuring about four-metres in length. Similar to polar bears, gray whales fast for about seven months while providing their offspring with rich, high-fat milk to build a thick layer of blubber before heading out on their own.
Newborn calves don't sleep for a whole month after they are born, and neither do their mothers. That means 24 hours a day of continuous swimming and jumping for air. Over the course of several months, the calf will settle into an adult schedule and the mother will revert to normal sleeping patterns.
Gestating sea otters need to eat about half their body weight every day to survive and sustain the growth of their pups—a task that often leaves them weak and skinny as the pups are weaning. Sea otters find child-rearing particularly exhausting and are sometimes so weakened by the process that they may receive minor wounds or infections.
A queen honey bee usually only mates once in her lifetime, on a warm day where she'll meet with 12 to 15 males or drones. This one day of mating can be enough to fertilize eggs for two to seven years (often a lifetime) and once mated, a queen will lay about 2000 eggs a day for life every spring.
In an environment full of dangerous predators—namely, fur poachers and polar bears—harp seals guard their young against the elements on a floating piece of ice. Once a seal gives birth, the pup feeds on milk for 12 continuous days (gaining an average of 5 lb. per day) while the mother fasts (losing about 7 lb. a day).
As one of the most protective mothers of the animal kingdom, pregnant polar bears must double their weight—putting on around 400 pounds—or their body might absorb the fetus. Mothers dig an underground den out of a snowdrift where they give birth to a litter of almost always two cubs. The cubs and mother live in the den, where the mother fasts and the twins nurse on her milk and gain strength for nearly 8 months. Polar bear cubs follow their mother around for about two years to gain the necessary survival skills before taking off on their own.
The wolf spider is one of the most caring of the arachnid world. While most spiders string their eggs on a web and continue on their way, wolf spiders strap the egg sac on their back and carry it around with them. When the eggs hatch, the baby spiders continue to hang out with their mom until they are old enough to fend for themselves. During this time, the matriarch walks on a strained angle so the babies don't drag on the ground.