With Mother’s Day around the corner, here is a quick read that should only add to the respect and love we all have for our dear mothers. Brace yourself to know about the worst moms in the animal kingdom…
For most of us, expressing the importance of our mothers in our lives is akin to trying to squeeze the entire universe into a handful. The very concept of love, benevolence, forgiveness, care, sacrifice, and all that defines humanity, begins with our mothers. And to show how much we appreciate our mommy’s love for us, we celebrate Mother’s Day.
However, when it comes to the animal kingdom, motherhood in some animal species is not as bright and happy a story as it is in our world. Being a mother in the animal kingdom can be the most terrifying, complex, and sometimes, pitiful part of life. Indeed, some mothers have attracted attention for neglecting their offspring, and others for abandoning them. There are also mothers for whom feeding on their young ones is just another day of their lives. While we cannot deny that such behavior is a part of evolution and survival, we also cannot ignore the cruelty that nature can have in its dark and dingy alleys. In this article, we give you nature’s meanest mommies…
Who, Johnny? Yeah … he is probably getting mauled or … killed by that new stud in the forest!
Lionesses – screaming examples of prowess, brute strength, audacity, and protective mothers for their kids. So, why are lionesses in this list of the meanest mommies of the wild? Well, they are in the list not for what they do, but for what they don’t.
You see, a family of lions is not called a ‘pride’ for nothing. When a male lion becomes an adult, he is banished from his birth pride, and has to begin his own dynasty. Brimming with fresh, crude strength, and raging hormones, he will try to take over another pride by killing its king (who’s probably up for retirement). What then remains between him and his new dynasty, are the newly born cubs of the dead king. So, what does he do? He kills all the cubs (mostly those less than 2 years old) without breaking a sweat. While these kids are being massacred, their ‘protective mother’ merely takes on the role of a silent spectator. With no small kids to raise, she would then probably go into heat, and help the new head of the pride to spawn his own family.
Mommy Giant Panda
Om nom nom nom, such tasty bamboos! Say, what’s that thing screaming under my foot?
Aww, would you look at that dazed face? Who would have thought that a cute, cuddly, fuzzy, and roly-poly animal like the giant panda could be in this list of the worst animal moms. But, it’s true! As documented by researchers, panda females often give birth to twins. However, it is only one of the offspring that is favored and raised by the mother, while the other one is neglected and left on its own to survive.
As cruel as this cold nature of panda mothers may seem, this is something naturalists call quality control. A panda mother somehow realizes that raising more than one kid may mess up the food supply of the entire family. So she decides that it is better to have one strong, fat kid than two weak and flimsy ones. Panda moms deserve nominations for the most sinister moms in the wild for one more reason – their ridiculously negligent behavior. In many instances, these giant, 280 pounds of fur have been known to roll over their infants while sleeping, or even step over them; you can imagine what happens to those poor little kids.
No milord, I did not eat Rodney and Mem. I only kissed them, and then … they disappeared. (Burp!)
As cuddly, cute, and aww-invoking as hamsters are, they have one nasty little secret. Mothers, in this species, often feed on their offspring. Although the cause behind this cannibalistic behavior is not specifically known, scientists have formed several plausible theories.
One theory suggests that the mother’s body may lack nutrition after giving birth, and to make up for it, sees her offspring as a ready McHamster snack. Another theory suggests that a mother hamster may feel threatened by the large litter she has just produced. Thus, to cut the threat, she does away with a few pups by eating them. Again, pups that are born with any abnormality or are undersized may also become their mother’s dinner.
One more viable theory that may explain hamsters being bad mothers is to do with the food supply. To ensure there is enough food for everyone, she reduces her litter size by happily chewing on some of her babies. So much for being cute and cuddly, eh?
Mommy Black Eagle
What can I possibly do if your brother tried to beak you to death? I am just a mother, not a babysitter!
If you smack your sibling, it is more than likely that your mom will smack you! However, this is not the case with the black eagle mother – yet another example of an indifferent parent. The black eagle is infamous for its laid-back attitude towards the usual (often violent) spats that take place between her kids, even if the spats turn bloody, and ends in one sibling murdering the other. The mother would simply perch back, relax and watch the last-chick-standing match, probably with a bowl full of ‘popworms’.
This behavior in black eagles only adds to the theory of the survival of the fittest. By letting the stronger sibling squabble the weaker one to death, the parent is merely safeguarding the food supply and ensuring a fitter offspring.
There, there. Mommy will be with you all for a full 2 minutes, okay!
If there ever was a competition of the best mother-child quality time, then I guess rabbit moms wouldn’t have even qualified to enter the contest. A rabbit mother, as soon as she gives birth, packs up and leaves. Later she may stop by for sometime to feed her kids, and see how they are doing. These short visits may continue for about 25 days, after which her kids are left to fend for themselves.
Scientists say rabbit mothers have adopted this behavior of abandoning their kids in order to minimize the likelihood of predators locating their burrows and chomping on the helpless litter. Somehow, they guess that the odds of dying out of starvation are less than becoming snacks for predators.
Mommy House Sparrow
Hmm… Let’s see… Samantha’s kids – check! Dora’s kids – check! Ru’s kids – check! Mary’s kids – due today!
If the chicks of house sparrows lead a happy childhood and grow into healthy adults, then it is because their mothers have spilled the blood of many of their kind.
Male house sparrows are known for their infidelity; they mate with several females in their lifetime. While a two-timed female will loath her husband, cry, or dump him for good, a female house sparrow does not take things so lightly. She will track the nest of the females her partner has mated with, and kill the chicks that resulted from the infidelity. By doing this, the monster mother is ensuring that her kids gets all the attention from their father, who is probably oblivious to the fact that his Don Juan adventures have cost so many innocent lives.
Mommy Black Bear
You know, I so hate the concept of family planning. It is just so … hateful!
While panda mothers think raising one kid is better than sweating over two, black bear mothers have the exact opposite perspective on this matter. Female black bears usually give birth to two or more cubs at a time. However, if sometimes her litter comprises only one kid, then God be with him, for the mother abandons the cub to fend for itself, hoping for a larger litter the next year. More the merrier, apparently!
In short, in this case, a black bear cub having a sibling (even if the sibling is nosy or a jerk) may actually increase the odds of survival, and fetch more love from the mother.
Hey July! You sure that psycho is your kid? Well, good luck with that!
It is the sheer laziness of the cuckoo which makes it one of the most horrible mothers in the animal kingdom. A female cuckoo may do all but build her own nest. So when she is pregnant and it’s time to lay eggs, she will find another bird’s nest (the host’s nest), and lay her eggs along with the ones of the host. She might even push an egg or two out of the nest to make room for hers.
What’s more interesting to know is that each mommy cuckoo develops a liking for a specific host bird, in whose nest only she will deposit her eggs. And here is where it becomes even more queer – the female cuckoo will lay eggs that somehow resemble the eggs of the host bird; in short, camouflaged eggs. Wicked! In this way, the host bird is tricked into raising a chick that is not actually hers. Usually, the cuckoo chick will hatch first and grow faster than the rest of the hatchlings.
In the process, the chick may push out the other chicks from the nest, causing their death. So you see, the laziness of mommy cuckoo does not only cause her to abandon her kids, but also results in the death of other kids, who probably knew nothing of this entire nasty business.
Wait, There’s More!
Other notable nominations for the worst mothers in the animal kingdom are…
Mommy Dracula Ant
If dracula ant queen mothers were to ever receive cards or flowers on Mother’s Day, it is more likely that they would be smeared in blood. Aptly named so, dracula ant queens feed on the blood of the live larvae of the colony. The only good thing is that they can do this without killing the babies; a process called non-destructive cannibalism. But hey, who wants to start a life with no blood in the body? And oh, just to keep up with the nastiness of this case, even the workers of the colony are invited upon to suck the blood of the larvae! “Your Highness, thank you for letting us suck the blood out of your son, Prince Draco II. It was filling and delicious!”
Mommy Burying Beetle
The motherhood of a burying beetle runs by a simple mantra – eat or be eaten! This is how it goes. Mama beetle and papa beetle bury a dead mouse, where they move in when they have kids. So, mama beetle chews on the mouse meat, swallows it, does a little samba, and then regurgitates the food to feed its babies. Now, while the carcass is still there, everyone will get its rightful bite. But, when the food runs out, or the mother beetle realizes that her family is just too big to meet the food supply, she gobbles up the kids who are left unfed and squealing “mommy, mommy, more food, more food…” Burying beetle kids, if there is one question that you should never ask your mommy, it is – “Hey ma, what’s for dinner?”
Mommy Mustached Tamarin
Out of all the bad moms mentioned here, mustached tamarin moms end their babies’ lives in the most cold-hearted manner. Known for their infanticidal tendencies, female mustached tamarins have been reported to toss their babies to the ground high up from a tree. Even if a baby falls from a tree by accident, its mother shows hardly any interest.
According to scientists, such pitiless behavior of a mother mustached tamarin is greatly influenced by the social makeup of her group. If the group does not have enough help, particularly males who are mostly responsible for protection and ensuring enough food supply, then it is more likely that the offspring have poor chances of survival. Realizing that it would be a waste of resources on raising such offspring, mothers take the decision of doing away with them, and wait for a better season for parenting kids.
Mommy Long-Tailed Skinks
The motherhood of female long-tailed skinks is somewhat similar to that of female mustached tamarins. If the maternity ward of a pregnant skink happens to fall around a place that is swarming with predators, then guess what the mother does? She eats her eggs even before they hatch. With such danger lurking around, mommy skink senses that her offspring does not have a chance anyway. So, the best way out is to eat them and use the nutrients to prepare herself for another cycle of reproduction. “Hiss, they are my kids, so only I get to eat them!”
Mommy Hooded Grebe
A mother hooded grebe cares for her chick on a first-come-first-serve basis. After building a floating nest, mama grebe and papa grebe will incubate the eggs (generally the mother lays two eggs), and the first one that hatches is the ‘chosen one’. What about the other one which is yet to hatch? Well, again, God be with him! The parents take the firstborn and swim away in pursuit of happiness, abandoning the nest, and leaving the other chick at the mercy of the elements, predatory birds, wicked carnivorous fish, and all other bad guys of the wild. Come to think of it, this case is an example of bad parenting overall, and not just bad motherhood. So down with the father too!
Anyway, after reading this, if you think your mommy was too harsh on you or too strict with you, we hope this article may have lent you a different perspective!