Ah, the miracle of life. They say it’s a beautiful thing…but is it really? Of course we all love those babies once they’re out in the open and have been given a fresh scrub, but the process leaves something to be desired—for both the women giving birth, as well as the people who have to watch them.
In fact, I have argued that it’s an absolute train wreck to witness, if not something out of a horror film. Still, somehow we can’t look away. In many cases, we are even more captivated by animal birth than by human birth. Birth by human is so passé. Millions of people waited with bated breath for April the Giraffe to give birth on a live news feed, as if it was the most fascinating thing to view since the invention of motion pictures began assaulting our vision some one hundred years ago.
I can’t lie to you though, I think the birthing process is absolutely disgusting (miraculous, but disgusting), and yet as I put together these 15 freaky videos of animals giving birth, I was mesmerized by the beauty of some species’ reproduction processes…as well as by the freak show element.
Some of these animals give birth in similar ways to us Homo sapiens, but some of them reproduce in mind-bending ways that will leave a permanent retinal scar if you watch them for too long. If you, dear reader, have a strong stomach, than I challenge you to keep your breakfast down while watching these 15 freaky vids of animals giving birth.
15Surinam Toad (Pipa Pipa)
The Surinam Toad's reproductive process is horrifying enough to keep us all up at night. This toad, nicknamed the Pipa Pipa, comes from the Amazon rainforest. They breed during the rainy season in the Amazon jungle and when the female releases her eggs, the male catches them and pushes the eggs onto the female's back—with his mouth. Within days, the eggs are absorbed into the female's skin. At first, it resembles a honeycomb structure with the eggs still visible on the surface, until finally, the eggs are fully absorbed under their mama's skin. And you thought an ingrown hair was uncomfortable. This mama has to then have a serious case of the creepy crawlies under her skin for about four months, before her babes are ready to go out on their own in the wild. When they are ready, they literally dig out of her skin; fully formed little baby toads that must then make their way in this mad world.
Now here's an animal that has it worse than humans. Giraffes are pregnant for about 14-15 months! Then, they give birth to a long-legged creature, and I can only imagine how those kicks feel in the womb. During the birthing process, the giraffe doesn't lie down like humans in order to give birth. Nope, not so easy on baby giraffes. They fall a couple of feet to a rough landing, sometimes on their heads. Yikes! Unlike human babies, giraffe babies walk very quickly, usually within an hour or two after birth. Talk about the pressure! These little babes have predators to worry about in the wild, so they need to be up on their feet quickly. Imagine! Mama has just been pregnant for 14 months, goes through the grueling birthing process, only to have her newborn baby scooped into the jaws of Simba. I think there's a jagged edge on that circle of life thing for these beautiful creatures.
We human moms just can't stop complaining about the pain of labor, and we always joke about just how small that hole is that we have to push a baby through. But, whenever you think you've got it bad remember, there's always someone who's got it worse than you. The hyena mother has to give birth through a penis. You heard that right, folks. A penis. Wrap your mind around that for a few seconds. Technically, this 'member' is not a penis, but it is actually an extended clitoris, which can actually grow up to seven inches in length. Now think about how difficult it must be for her to even get pregnant in the first place! Once your mind is finished being blown, I will now share this lovely tidbit: 60% of hyena cubs die of suffocation in this 'pseudo-penis', because the passage is so narrow. And we thought the toad and the giraffe had it bad.
In nearly every species on Earth the female is the one to give birth, the only exception to this is a species of fish called in the Syngnathidae family (pipefish, seahorse, and the seadragon). While that doesn’t seem quite fair to the females of the world, we can be happy there is at least one exception. According to National Geographic, “male seahorses are equipped with a brood pouch on their ventral, or front-facing, side. When mating, the female deposits her eggs into his pouch, and the male fertilizes them internally. He carries the eggs in his pouch until they hatch, then releases fully formed, miniature seahorses into the water.” Not only do the males carry these eggs, but they also have contractions and give birth to up to fifteen hundred babies at one time. Imagine carrying that many human babies. Mind boggling! It’s a little intense to watch all those babies exploding out of papa’s chest though…
Out of all these freaky videos of animals giving birth, I think the kangaroo is the freakiest. A pink kangaroo embryo pops out of mama's hoo-ha and it's the size of a lima bean or a grain of rice. This little guy then has to climb-wriggle from down under and up into mom's pouch. Oh yeah, and it's deaf and blind. Once it finds its way safely into the pouch, the little one will latch onto mom's nipple, suckling for up to 34 weeks. This tiny embryo was conceived many months earlier, but remains in a suspended animation called a diapause. All in all, this video is strangely fascinating to watch. I do believe the female kangaroo has it better than most mammals when it comes to giving birth. I've passed blood clots larger than a lima bean, so I'm pretty sure I would trade an eight-pound baby for one that tiny any day of the week.
Many people are taken with dolphins, and for good reason! They are considered one of the most intelligent species on the planet. They also have a lot of other interesting similarities to humans that most other species don't have, the most interesting being that they like to have sex—for fun! They are pregnant from a period ranging from 10-17 months depending on the species of dolphin, and they also feed their babies using an umbilical cord like humans do, while in the womb. Dolphins usually have singleton births, though in rare cases they can produce twins. They also only have babies every 1-6 years. Dolphins are born tail first, in order to prevent them from drowning. Once born, dolphins suckle their mother's nipples just like other mammals, and they can do this up to two years of age. Dolphins reach maturity between the ages of 5 and 15 years, also depending on the species.
9Pot Bellied Pig
When mama pigs are preggers, their stomachs become even more ginormous, and their teats will drag along the ground. This is actually a good thing, because it will toughen them up. Sounds like a fun experience a nursing human mother can relate to! In the above video, this pot bellied pig mama shoots out a baby and seems almost startled by its existence. Apparently, pot bellied pigs have a shorter gestation than humans, with about 4 months of pregnancy. They also have a varied number of babies in each litter—they can have anywhere from 1-12 piglets. Mama pigs don't make the best mother's during the birthing process, as they don't lick their babies and can squash them as they lay down to push out more babies. They do have a protective instinct though, so they will bite humans who come too close. The piglets pretty much hit the ground running, so they don't need a lot of help from mom or interfering humans.
Orangutans are great apes (I mean they're great, but they belong to the 'great ape' family) and have 97% of their DNA in common with humans. Orangutans have many similarities to human with regards to their reproductive process. Their menstruation cycles are roughly 30 days, and they carry their young for 9 months before giving birth. The delivery is also very similar to humans, except that they actually eat the amniotic sac right off their baby, and lick them clean. Num. I would like to believe human mothers would do this if we had to... Orangutans usually only have singleton births and they only have a child every six to seven years. This makes population growth difficult and has put this animal on the endangered species list. Female orangutans care for their babies for many years, with the baby orangutans latched onto their mother's body while she swings through the rainforest.
I don't know why but I have a thing for llamas. Probably because of that Disney movie where the emperor is turned into a llama, The Emperor's New Groove, or maybe it's the Llama Llama children's books... Llamas can get pregnant quite young, as early as four to six months of age. Now, that just ain't right. They carry their young for about 350 days and they produce singleton babies. Twinning is rare and is usually not successful, as you can imagine there would not be enough room for two babies, either in the womb or coming out. Llamas weigh somewhere between 18 and 40 pounds at birth. Imagine two of those inside one little llama! Llamas are induced ovulators, so the act of copulation causes the release of the female's eggs. This makes pregnancy possible for llamas pretty much all year long, at any time. Llama mamas turn up their noses at the concept of licking their young, preferring they dry off on their own. They do suckle them and are thought to be good mothers.
How can you not love a striped horse? The video of this zebra’s birth was captured in Tanzania. Capturing animal birth in the wild is super special. Put that on your bucket list, yes? Zebras mate year-round and mamas carry their young for 12-13 months. They produce one baby at a time and they suckle their young, like all mammals. Within 15 minutes of a foul's birth, they can stand on their own. Within the first hour they are walking around. This is crucial to their survival in the wild. Zebras’ average lifespan in the wild is nine years, but there is a 50% survival rate for zebra fouls, due to the targeting of newborns by their predators—lions, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, and wild dogs. Zebras' stripes appear brown and white at birth, but they darken as they age. This video is pretty amazing to watch—a zebra being born in the wild.
Rhinos are an endangered species, with some subspecies of rhino almost extinct. The northern white rhino has only 5 living rhinos in captivity at this time, and with their death—their subspecies will become extinct. Unfortunately for the captive rhinos, they don't breed well in captivity. Hope is dwindling for their survival. Other species are not in such dire circumstances, such as the southern white rhino. In the above video witness the birth of a little baby rhino, and isn't he adorable? Mama rhinos are pregnant for 14-18 months and they only carry one calf at a time. They will nurse their calf for two weeks, and then will slowly introduce them to the grass and foliage that rhinos eat. Rhinos are thankfully born without their horn, and they are born with a thick coating of hair to protect them from the sun. Mama looks out for her offspring for about two to three years.
Like the kangaroo, the panda gives birth to one of the tiniest babies relative to the panda's adult size. Their babies weigh only a mere .2 pounds at birth on average. These little pink babes are born blind and virtually hairless. The panda mom only carries the tyke in her womb for just 3-5 months. Newborn panda cubs are so weak they can't stand on their own, and all they do is feed on their mother's milk, sleep, and poo. Hey…that sounds familiar. After a week or so, the newborn will slowly begin developing patches of black hair. By three months of age they can walk slightly, though they will often stumble. By six months of age, they can play with their mothers and will begin eating bamboo. At one year of age, the cubs are weaned, though they will continue living with their mother for another six months to a year. By the age of two, they will leave mama to make their own way in the world.
The camel is a seasonal breeder and unlike other livestock, both the male and female camels come into a period of 'heat'. Male heat is known as 'Rutt'. The gestation period for the camel is 390 days with the average birth weight being between 35-40 pounds. Camels are born feet and head first, and these animals can usually be walking around within the first hour after birth. The camel also nurses, but like the llama (also a member of the camel family) they don't attempt to lick or clean their young. Camels have some serious personality when not giving birth, but this video shows mama camel yelling just about as loud as human mamas yell when giving birth. Camels produce singleton babes, as twins would not be able to survive the birthing process. Also interesting is that the camel baby’s hump initially appears flat after the baby is born, but it begins to perk up after a little while.
Elephants are one of Earth's most interesting animals. These animals have the longest gestational period of all mammals with an average length of 22 months! Male elephants are called bulls, females are called cows, and their babies are known as calves. When a baby elephant is born, it will weigh around 200 pounds and will stand around three feet tall. Baby elephants will nurse from their mothers for up to 3-4 years, though they can be weaned earlier as 90% of their diet by the age of 9 months is vegetation. Elephant females will likely remain with the same herd as her mother forever. Many male elephants will eventually leave to form to roam on their own. The elephant's trunk is actually a nose with about 100 different muscles. It can be used for drinking, grabbing, trumpeting, and more. Their ears radiate heat to keep them cool, but they are also known to be very fond of playing in water.
National Geographic, National Geographic, Whale Facts, Pigs4ever, Sutter's Mill, Mom.me, Rhinos, China Highlights, Camel Hill
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