Spring adds new life and new joy to all that is. — Jessica Harrelson
Wherever you are in the world, when springtime comes around, nature’s boastfulness is almost arrogant. It is also the time for baby animals to arrive. Why? Because spring weather brings rising temperatures and fewer harsh-weather risks. Furthermore, food becomes more abundant, and the longer days allow parents more time to find food for their precious babies.
My cover photo shows a baby orangutan. These young ones remain with their mothers into their teens. Orangutans have the longest childhood dependence of all animals. The females do not give birth more than a few times in their lives, with intervals of about 8 years. The boys leave their mothers when they’re about 10 years old, but the girls stay longer to learn from their mothers how to care for the young.
A baby elephant can weigh as much as 200 pounds
A 200-pound baby is massive, and to get that heavy, the gestation is 22 months. Although these little creatures can walk within about an hour, they rely on their mothers to teach them survival skills. They feed on their mothers’ milk for up to 10 years before they get weaned. Only then can they survive on grasses and other solid vegetation.
Baby rhinos do not have horns
Female rhinos carry their babies for 18 months. They weigh between 60 and 120 pounds at birth. The rhino calves don’t have horns at birth, but their front horns start showing after one to two months. The back horn grows slower, and it only becomes visible after approximately three months.
A baby giraffe falls about 6 feet at birth
Mama giraffe carries her baby for 14 months. Giraffes are the tallest land mammals, standing about 14 to 19 feet high and weighing between 1,750 and 2,800 pounds. Giraffes’ legs are about six feet long, and the females give birth standing up, which means the baby drops about six feet to the ground. The baby giraffe falls on its head, but instead of hurting, it makes the baby take its first deep breath. These little long-legged critters can walk on their own after about an hour.
Mama rabbits feed baby bunnies only once a day
The pregnancy of rabbits is only four to five weeks. Their litters can be from seven to 15 baby bunnies. The mother’s milk is rich enough to sustain the babies for 24 hours. They rarely feed their little ones more than once per day.
Raising a baby otter is a family affair
Baby otters are born blind. They only open their eyes after 40 days. Otters show their intelligence by the way they care for their young. Mom and dad gather and stock up piles of food before the birth to allow dad to protect the vulnerable mom and baby after the birth, instead of foraging for food.
Baby deer have 4 teeth at birth
Baby deer are born one or two at a time, each with four baby teeth. They develop premolars and baby incisors through the next few months. They never grow upper teeth. Deer can run as fast as 30 miles per hour, and whitetail deer can jump up to 14 or 15 feet.
Foxes have 6 to 11 pups once a year
Female foxes carry their pups for 53 days. The babies are blind for the first nine days. During that time, the mother takes care of them in the den while the father and siblings gather food to bring to them.
Hedgehog babies have soft spines
Hedgehogs give birth to up to seven babies at a time. The babies have soft spines, which become stiffer, harder, longer and sharper over the next three weeks. By that time, their eyes have opened, and they can join mommy and start exploring nature.
A baby Panda is the size of a pencil at birth
Baby pandas are the smallest newborn mammals relative to the mother’s size. Adult pandas’ average weight is 220 to 250 pounds. Their little pink babies weigh between three and four ounces at birth, and they are about the size of a pencil. The gestation period is three to five months.
Domestication of goats started 11,000 years ago
Goats carry their babies for about five months, and they often have twins or triplets. They don’t have upper jaw teeth. Instead, they have powerful upper dental pads. Goats can see between 320 and 340 degrees in their periphery because they have rectangular pupils.
Female sheep give birth after about 5 months
Sheep have interesting traits. For example, like goats, they have rectangular pupils, and their fleece never stops growing. Most interesting though is the fact that sheep are more inclined than any other animals to be homosexual. About 8% of domestic sheep flocks show same-sex preferences for life — even when there are fertile females available.