15 Animals Whose Pregnancy Is Longer Than 9 Months

Most women when they're expecting literally get ‘done’ with the whole pregnancy before they even hit the third trimester. I actually met a friend last week who is merely 28 weeks pregnant, but deep down inside she just wants it to end. For some reason, I became curious and wanted to find out how long animal pregnancies tend to last.

A bit of research made me think that women should thank God that they just have 9 months to deal with. Compared with the ridiculously long pregnancies of many animals out there, a mere 266 days is literally NOTHING to complain about. Compare those 9 months with that of almost 2 years of gestation for elephants. That's right! Feel a bit better now?

We thought so!

Yes we understand why any women out there might start to feel a bit ready to get the whole thing over with. Who likes the feeling of their skin stretching, lower back pain and pelvic pressure that can't be relieved with any amount of oils, massages or sleep. There really are legit complaints and we wouldn't minimize that for a second.

But imagine if the pregnancy was the same as a shark's? Female sharks carry their eggs for 2 years--and they're not the only egg bearing species who has to wait 2 long years before they get to lay their eggs.

So we get it, but man! Other species have it so much worse than us, that it's not even funny. If women think they're about to pop after 8 months, imagine after 18 months! So read this and feel much, much better.

15 Horses

A mare remains pregnant for about 11-12 months, which means their gestation period lasts between 340 to 365 days. Compared to just 9 months of carrying your baby in your room, I don’t see why you should be complaining – at least you’re not carrying a baby horse in there!

Considering the fact that a mare remains pregnant for about a year, they can only give birth to a single foal on a yearly basis. But when it comes to stallions, things are fairly different. This is because stallions can produce nearly two hundred foals each and every year.

Although mares can produce a foal when they are about eighteen months of age, it is best for reproduction to take place only after a mare is at least four years old. Remember, as long as a mare is healthy, she can reproduce till she is well into her twenties.

14 Elephants

Elephants are HUGE mammals – and their pregnancies are equally huge. Believe it or not, but a mama elephant carries her calf for about 22 months. If anything, this is THE longest gestation period known amongst all mammals. What this means is that female elephants continue to remain pregnant for nearly 2 full years.

And once that time is over, they actually give birth to a calf that weighs at least 110 kgs. Considering that mama elephants also need to walk around and look for food and water while carrying such a huge calf, so I don’t get why humans should be complaining about a mere 9 months of pregnancy!

The most interesting thing here is that after giving birth, female elephants do not get pregnant for at least two to five years. In all honesty, after carrying around such a heavy calf for 2 full years in their womb, can you really blame them for wanting to rest it out for so long? The only case where they are ready to get pregnant earlier is in case the calf dies either at birth or soon after being born.

13 Manatees

Manatees are large marine mammals that have flippers, a flat ail and an eff-shaped head. Also known as sea cows, a dozen or more bulls (male manatees) follow a female around. This group of bulls is known as a mating herd, and once they have mated with the female, they detach and play no part in raising the young that is later delivered.

In terms of their gestation period, the female remains pregnant for an entire year and then gives birth to a live calf underwater. At first, the mother helps the calf reach the surface of the water to breathe. However, within an hour, she teaches the calf to swim on its own without any support from her.

For the record, young manatees tend to reach sexual maturity in five years and that is when they are ready to have their own young too.

12 Sea Lions

The gestation period for sea lions tends to last about 11 months. Once the breeding season arrives, female sea lions, also known as cows, start presenting themselves to the males. In some cases, they even initiate mating in the waters. To attract females, it is natural for males, also known as bulls, to start barking louder.

The moment the cows realize that the mating rituals, which can last from minutes to hours, are done with, they start nipping the bulls’ necks. Breeding usually takes place on isolated parts of the beach, and the same spot is used each time they breed.

When female sea lions finally give birth, their pups weigh anywhere between 13 to 20 pounds. After birth, the pups will be nursed for anywhere between six months and one year. When the pups become two months old, their mother teaches them how to swim, and this is when they start looking for food alongside their mother.

11 Black Rhinos

Female black rhinos remain pregnant for about 15 to 16 months, which makes it an average of between 419 to 478 days. Compared to a human’s 9 months, that’s a crazy long gestation period. Also, considering that a black rhino calf weighs around 50 kgs at birth, I honestly don’t see what we women should be complaining about with regards to our gestation periods.

Once the calf is delivered, the mother keeps it alongside her till it is 3 years old. Female calves, on the other hand, stay for extended periods of time with the mother. During this period, the mother will teach her how to develop bonds with other females. For the record, female black rhinos reach maturity between 1 to 4 years of age.

After delivering their calves, they continue to nurse anywhere between two months and 1 year. However, even after weaning, the calves stay with their mother till they are about two to three years old.

10 Giraffes

On an average, giraffes remain pregnant for about 464 days or 15 months, which, in the animal kingdom, is believed to be the longest. Although rather rare, it is possible for giraffes to give birth to twins. However, in a majority of cases, mama giraffes deliver a single calf. After delivery, it is common for female giraffes to refrain from reproduction about 16 months at least.

When it comes to mating rituals, giraffes typically mate during rainy season. This assures that they deliver their babies during the dry season. Now the initiation of the mating process is rather unique in giraffes. What happens is that the female initiates it by urinating, which helps the male catch her smell.

If he wants to mate with her, he will lick her tail and lift his front leg, which makes the female get into position for mating purposes.

9 Javan Rhinos

The average weight of a javan rhino is between 900 and 2,200 kgs – with that weight, imagine being pregnant for at least 15 to 17 months. Yes, that’s how heavy they are and how long their pregnancies last. Javan rhinos deliver one calf at a time, and they live for about 40 years in the wild.

For those who don’t know, amidst javan rhinos, it is just the males who have large horns. On the other hand, either females don’t have a horn at all or they have a very small knob found on their noses. Female javan rhinos are known to reach sexual maturity at about five years of age, but this could go up to about seven years too. On the other hand, males reach sexual maturity at ten years of age at least. Upon being delivered, the calf of a javan rhino weighs at least 25 kilograms.

8 Frilled Sharks

Frilled sharks look nothing like sharks. Instead, they resemble eels when it comes to their appearance. If anything, these sharks are commonly known as living fossils considering the fact that they have a lot in common with one of their prehistoric ancestors.

To make things interesting, frilled sharks are known to have the longest pregnancies amongst all living vertebrates. Believe it or not, but their gestation period lasts for an entire 3.5 years – you got that right – THREE AND A HALF YEARS. With that bit of knowledge, do you really think you have anything to complain about with regards to being pregnant for a mere 9 months?

Also, after those 3.5 years of pregnancy, the frilled shark delivers 6 pups, each of which are at least 40 cm long. Apart from that, they live in extremely deep waters and due to the intense cold deep down there, frilled sharks tend to have a very slow reproduction, breeding and metabolic cycle.

7 Velvet Worms

If you think only larger sized animals are the ones that have long pregnancies, well, then you’re wrong. This is because a worm known as the velvet worm is known to bear its live young for 15 months. That’s right – a worm with a fluid-filled body cavity remains pregnant with live young ones for a full fifteen months.

A majority of people know nothing about velvet worms. With 180 modern species, these tiny little creatures are found in the tropics, Australia and New Zealand. As many would believe, neither are these worms literally worms, nor are they made out of velvet. Instead, they have hydrostatic skeletons with fluid-filled body cavities.

Believe it or not, but they come from a clade that is known to have been around for about 500 million years. So if such a tiny thing can remain pregnant for so long, what do you,

6 Deep-Sea Octopus

According to research conducted by experts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a deep-sea octopus continues to brood its eggs for – let’s let the drums roll – a full four and a half years! Yes, compared to that, being pregnant for a mere 9 months is literally nothing!

All through the time that the octopus was being watched by the researchers, the female continued to keep her eggs clean and made sure that they were adequately protected against predators. Prior to conducting this research, the longest known gestation period for octopi was 14 months. However, this particular octopus belongs to the deep-sea where there are colder waters.

For the record, a female octopus does not eat while raising her young, which just makes things crazier, right? So how do these females survive? Well, scientists do not really have an answer yet, but it is believed that the cold temperatures of the deep sea slow down their metabolic rate and that is just what might be helping them survive.

5 Black Alpine Salamanders

For those who don’t know, black alpine salamanders happen to be amphibians that are found mostly in the Central and Eastern Alps. From what is known about them, black alpine salamanders give birth to live young and have a life expectancy of about 10 to 20 years. So what’s so interesting about them?

Well, it’s the fact that these tiny creatures have a gestation period that lasts anywhere between two to three years, depending on the altitude that they are living on.

Once their gestation periods are over, black alpine salamanders give birth to two live young ones. Considering they are fully developed, female salamanders do not need to nourish them through the juvenile stage. So if a tiny creature like this can remain pregnant for that long without complaining, do we really have something to crib about with regards to our 9-month pregnancies? I don’t think so!

4 Camels

The one thing that camels are particularly known for are their crabby and stubborn personalities. But when it comes to female camels, do you blame them for their attitude after learning that they have a gestation period of a full 14 months or 410 days? Yes, imagine having to walk around with a camel in your belly for 14 straight months!

Just so you know, camels are native to areas of northern India, Middle East and Africa. With the passage of time, this creature has survived in deserts and have the potential to stay alive without drinking water for up to three weeks. These have long been used by people of the said areas as a means of transportation and have since been termed as ‘ships of the desert’.

They are ill-tempered and when irritated, they can bite, spit and even kick humans. Once the gestation period is over, female camels give birth to a single calf.

3 Orcas

Better known to people as killer whales, it is common for orcas to be found in the Arctic and Antarctic. At times, they can even be found off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. For the record, orcas are particularly known for their high intelligence.

When it comes to their gestation periods, orcas remain pregnant for about 16 months. Once their gestation period is over, they give birth to a single calf. The delivered calf is known to measure around 7 feet long and weighs approximately 400 pounds. It is believed that the calf remains with the mother for two years, after which they part ways.

For the record, orcas have become one of the most contaminated species in the world owing to increasing amounts of pollution and chemical contamination of the oceans. The onset of this pollution has made them a whole lot more susceptible to diseases that have triggered reproductive difficulties in them.

2 Walrus

Walruses belong to the pinniped group of mammals (which further includes sea lions and seals etc.) and have the longest gestation period in all of them. From what is known, they carry their young for about 16 months. Before anything else, it take up to four full months for the embryo to attach itself to the placenta, so it is hard to tell if the female has even conceived or not.

After the initial four months of the embryo living in the body and then the 16 months of pregnancy, the female delivers offspring in optimal time and they have a very high rate of survival even in the harsh conditions of their natural habitat. At birth, it is believed that the calves of a walrus weight anywhere between 100 and 170 pounds.

1 Malayan Tapirs

For those who don’t know, Malayan Tapirs are found in countries located in SouthEast Asia including Burma, Thailand and the island of Sumatra. In the said countries, they are known to inhabit the forests and tropical rainforests. For water consumption purposes, they continue to remain close to water sources like rivers and streams.

When you first look at a tapir, its appearance is totally going to surprise you. Why is that so? Well, for the simple reason that they look like a cross between an anteater and a pig. However, to surprise you a bit more, they are related to rhinos and horses. With that, they even share the same long gestation periods that rhinos and horses are known for.

Yes, tapirs carry their calves for 13 months in the womb. After they are born, the calves remain with their mothers for a few months after which they become more independent.

Sources: LiveScience, Mom.me, Little Things, National Geographic

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