How a baby grows: animal care in action
In nature, everything is arranged reasonably and expediently. Wild animals and their young build relationships in accordance with innate programs - instincts, handed down from generation to generation. This means that they follow certain rituals in raising and feeding the younger generation.
Evolution hidden from view
In various species of mammals, the period of fetal development of the fetus differs within wide limits. In general, the amount of time a baby cub grows inside the mother's body depends on:
- adult size;
- life span of individuals of the species;
- metabolic rate;
- some features of development.
The smallest members of the class, rodents, pregnancy lasts only 18-20 days. Larger animals - dogs - carry babies for 2 months, and even larger ones - bears - for 7 or 8 months.
In the hare, the ratio of life expectancy to the intrauterine development period is respectively 7 years and 50 days, and for an elephant it is 70 years and 20 months.
Large representatives of the Feline family with a rather intensive metabolism (for example, lions) carry the baby for 4 months, and the whales of the cold seas, in which all processes in the body take place much slower - about one year.
Sometimes a baby animal is born not fully formed, like a giant kangaroo after a 40-day gestation. But then, even for a long seven months, the kengureen spends in a safe shelter of the mother's bag, feeding on milk and growing up.
The number of calves born simultaneously depends directly on the support and care provided by parents. Rodents who very quickly forget about their children have several multiple pregnancies a year. Vole in the most favorable years brings up to 8 litters of 10-15 babies in each.
In species with a long period of care for the offspring, only 1-2 babies are born at a time. The bear, which does not part with its offspring for several years, gives birth to three bear cubs, and often the only young monkey (in high primates) is under parental care until maturity and maintains relationships with the family for life.
Wild animals and their babies stay together for a while, until the babies are stronger and learn how to get food on their own. Accompanying them mainly mother.
From the moment of birth, it provides cubs with the possibility of survival, freeing them from the membranes, licking and warming. The first food of mammals - mother's milk is a real elixir of life, giving a sure start to the future.
The feeding period may vary significantly between mammals. Dog puppies are breastfed for about a month, and white cubs feed on fat and nutritious milk until the age of one and a half years.
Fathers in the animal world support offspring extremely rarely. Responsible family men - foxes and wolves, who raise and feed the growing young. In hoofed animals, males generally play the role of guards, protecting females and young in their herd. Sometimes a young animal needs protection from its own father. For example, a lioness does not allow a lion to her kittens for the first few months.
Cub animal learns to be an adult
Not all behavioral patterns needed by an animal in adult independent life are determined by instincts.The hunting skills of predatory mammals are obtained in the family by copying the behavior of adults and playing with each other.
A tiger cub receives invaluable hunting lessons from its mother: how to lay low and move covertly, hunt down and kill prey, and distinguish between edible and inedible. Starting at the age of two, tiger cubs follow their mother to fish, learning to practice, and by the age of 3, striped adolescents can already hunt on their own.
The female cheetah, at first glance, acts cruelly with its children. She brings the calves not killed, but only the victim wounded by her and releases her, so that the little ones hunt themselves. If they fail to catch the prey, the mother does not feed them, leaving them hungry until the next attempt. The next day, spotted kittens have much more motivation and aggression to catch the victim.
The wolf introduces the young to the hunt in several stages:
- Under 1 year old wolves bring small prey (mouse or chick) as a toy.
- Leads on the hunt as spectators.
- She hunts with grown wolves side by side.
The babies of deer, antelope, and saiga within a few days after birth confidently follow their mother on their legs.The danger of predator attacks would otherwise make them too vulnerable. Although the young of the herbivorous ungulates do not hunt, they also have a lot to learn from parents and relatives in the herd.
Observing and copying the behavior of adults, they learn to seek shelter, find the best food, and behave carefully at a watering place. Being at the first time under the protection of the group, the deer and the lambs learn to distinguish between predators and other dangers, because comprehending this from their own experience can cost them their lives.