Crazy Ways Animals Give Birth

From snails with very unfortunate anatomies to rodents born covered in sharp spines, here are some of the most incredible and crazy ways animals give birth.

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Giving birth to a child isn’t an easy feat. Just ask any mother out there! But humans have things pretty easy compared to the utterly bizarre birthing practices of certain creatures on our planet. From snails with very unfortunate anatomies to rodents born covered in sharp spines, here are some of the most incredible and crazy ways animals give birth.

Kiwi

New Zealand’s kiwi bird is not like most other birds. It’s completely flightless, it burrows underground, and takes almost 30 days to produce an egg. However, the Kiwi is known to lay the biggest egg in proportion to the body of any bird on Earth!

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A single egg can take up as much as 25% of the mother’s body mass. That would be like an average human mother giving birth to a four-year-old toddler! The kiwi mother’s organs become so compressed during this time, that she’s often unable to feed in the final few days of her pregnancy. But once laid, the kiwi chick has a competitive edge in this scary new world because it’s already well-developed.

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Once the chick hatches, it’s almost fully formed! Scientists theorize that the chick develops in this way so that it has the ability to run and evade predators soon after birth. Running from a predator is not the best way to enter the world but when you're born a flightless bird, you have to hit the ground running!

Porcupine

It’s not just size that can make birth difficult for animals. Take the porcupine, for example. These giant rodents are famous for the sharp quills that cover their bodies, and for good reason. With each spike containing up to 800 tiny barbs along the tip, they’re incredibly painful and hard to remove.

But while they’re effective at keeping predators away, you’d expect those barbed spikes to pose a horrendously painful problem for expectant mothers! So how does a female porcupine give birth without getting severely spiked by the baby on its way out?

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While baby porcupines, known as porcupettes, are indeed born fully quilled, their quills are more like fur than spikes at first. However, these quills begin to harden once they’re exposed to air. This means complications at birth where the porcupette is born facing the wrong way can leave partially hardened quills embedded in the birth canal!

Giraffe

It’s not just painful exits and extra-wide offspring that make animal births so bizarre. Giraffe mothers also have the height of their calves to worry about! This famously long-necked species can grow to around 20 feet tall, and they usually give birth standing up!

After gestating the calf for around 15 months, allowing it to grow to around 220 lbs, the calf is gently pushed out through the mother’s birth canal, head and front legs first! However, the pregnant mother’s body stands about 6 feet off the ground, meaning that when the calf is pushed out, it falls to the floor!

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Usually, dropping a newborn on its head has serious repercussions, but for giraffes, it’s all part of the process that snaps the umbilical cord. It also works out safer for the calf, because if the mother lays down during delivery, it increases the chances of her accidentally squashing or injuring the calf. So, it would seem giraffes exchanged their added height for a few brain cells lost on impact at birth in this unusual evolutionary trade-off!

African Dwarf Crocodile

When you think of something laying an egg, you probably picture a chicken or another bird. But it’s not just birds that lay eggs; that amazing feature is also shared by many reptiles! While flesh-hungry reptiles like the African Dwarf Crocodile may look vicious, they are surprisingly gentle when it comes to their young.

They build mound nests at the sides of bodies of water where they lay their clutch of about 10 eggs. This is to keep them hidden from predators and protected from a rising and falling water line.

After three months with the mother keeping close guard, the hatchling crocodiles begin to break out of their shells. But here’s the crazy part: the mother will then transfer her hatchlings to the water using only her mouth! She even helps remove the shells of trapped infants with her teeth!

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For an animal that can effortlessly tear chunks off its prey with a bite force of up to 3,500 pounds per square inch, the process must require incredible control. One wrong move, or accidental reflex, and those little hatchings could easily end up becoming their mother’s lunch! That’s not the kind of “family meal” most mothers have in mind.

Christmas Island Red Crab

Every year on Christmas Island, millions of red crabs migrate to the shores to produce one of the most astounding mass-birthing spectacles on the planet. While the sight of all those crabs is mind-blowing on its own, the spawning of the eggs is somehow even crazier!

After mating, female crabs will produce around 100,000 eggs in their brood pouches and wait along the island’s coastlines for around 2 weeks while they develop. When the time’s right, the female crabs will then perch in the water and shake loose the thousands of eggs into the sea.

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As soon as the eggs hit the water, the larvae inside begin to hatch, and the moment they’re floating free, this is where the mother’s involvement ends. It may seem a little haphazard to leave your offspring completely unguarded in the sea, but this is part of the age-old "survival of the fittest" reproduction technique.

Even though countless larvae are lost to ocean currents or devoured by fish, those that survive and develop over the following month make their way back to the island. On good years, when millions of these tiny, 5mm-wide young ones return, they storm the island’s beaches en masse, crawling along like the world’s weirdest living carpet.

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Kangaroo

The Kangaroos of Australia are pretty famous for their unusual practices when it comes to raising babies. But it gets much weirder than just a cute furball in a pouch. At merely around 33 days into gestation, the jelly-bean-sized kangaroo joey emerges from one of the mother’s two uteri.

It’s incredibly underdeveloped; it has no rear limbs and cannot see or hear. Yet this creature’s incredible instincts drive it to climb up the mother’s fur towards a pouch on her stomach. While it may just look like a skin pocket, the pouch serves as a complete nursery. Once the joey is safely inside, it attaches to its mother’s teat and develops there for 6 months before bouncing out for the first time!

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These magnificent marsupial mothers can care for up to 3 joeys, each at different stages of life, all at the same time if necessary! They can hold one in the pouch, one in the uterus, and a more developed joey on the ground. The mother’s body is even clever enough to prevent a new fertilized egg from being developed until the joey in her pouch has hopped away!

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Sugar Glider

There’s more than one animal in the land down under that gives birth in an unusual way, but this one’s taking the crown as the cutest. The Sugar Glider is a marsupial that has thin stretches of skin under its arms which allow it to glide from tree to tree in the wild! But the weirdest thing about it has to be the way it gives birth.

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At around 16 days into gestation, a tiny pink creature emerges, measuring around 0.2 inches long. Similarly to the kangaroo, the Sugar Glider joey is born incredibly underdeveloped, with its eyes and ears still fused shut!

Using those strong marsupial instincts, it migrates towards the mother’s pouch, which thankfully only takes about 5 minutes. To help its progress, the mother will lick a path from her cloaca to the pouch, allowing the joey to more easily cling to her fur.

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Once inside the pouch, the joey will mature there for a further 70 days. That nifty, secure pouch allows the mother to glide and forage for food, all while suckling and caring for her baby. When a sugar glider joey feels ready for some independence, all it needs to do is spread its own wings and fly!

Snail

The African land snail may be one of the slowest creatures around, but, surprisingly, it’s also one of the fastest reproducing species in the world! These giant gastropods are hermaphrodites, meaning each snail has both male and female reproductive organs, so technically all of them are capable of laying eggs.

Around 2 to 3 weeks after mating, the pregnant snail will lay eggs out of its body’s genital pore. This is a small tube connected to its reproductive system, unnervingly close to the snail’s face! That means that its mouth, eyes, and reproduction chute are so close together that, technically, it can watch itself laying those eggs!

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Also, in just one batch, these colossal mollusks can lay up to 500 eggs! The frisky devils reproduce every 2 to 3 months, and with 500 eggs a pop, it’s surprising that the giant snail army hasn’t tried to take over the world yet.

Goat

Despite having some of the strangest faces in the animal kingdom, the most unnerving thing about the common goat is the way it gives birth. On average, baby goats gestate in the womb for around 5 months before making their grand entrance into the world. As the mother goat enters labor, a kind of bubble is usually pushed out ahead of the offspring.

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This is the amniotic membrane, filled with amniotic fluid. While it may look like something plucked straight out of a horror film, this bubble surrounds the offspring as it develops, acting as a nutrient-exchanging cushion while it’s in the womb.

Eventually, the young goat, still in its amniotic sac, is delivered. Naturally, the mother then begins to clean it, licking and eating the sac. That is a vital process to ensure the baby isn’t constricted and can breathe.

Python

Pythons make up some of the world’s largest species of constricting snakes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft side. Unlike their cousins the Boas, which give birth to live young, pythons lay eggs. The numbers differ from python to python, but larger pythons are able to produce up to 100 eggs in a single clutch!

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But while most species of egg-laying snakes will abandon their eggs, Pythons are known to coil around their egg clutch to protect them in a process known as brooding. If temperatures get too cold, the mothers of certain types of pythons will contract their muscles and shiver to keep the eggs warm.

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The mother’s body generates heat for her eggs through this type of movement, but to the untrained eye, it almost looks like she’s hiccupping! After around 60 days under the mother’s watchful eye, the eggs begin to hatch. But it’s no fairy tale. Once they’re free of their shells, the baby snakes, called snakelets, are on their own.

Elephant

Making a baby elephant takes time and patience, as it has the single longest gestation period of any mammal on the planet. Taking roughly 21 months to produce what is normally a single offspring, an African Elephant calf enters the world, usually weighing in at around a staggering 200 lbs. That’s almost 30 times the weight of a human baby!

But elephant births aren’t just bigger; they can get a lot weirder too. During a pregnant elephant’s labor, an amniotic sack may be pushed out first, giving it a balloon-like appearance. This is similar to that of the goat birth, only on a much larger scale. Once the huge calf has been delivered, the mother blows and rubs the sac off the newborn, encouraging it to breathe and move.

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But that’s not all! If the mother part is of a supportive herd, the other elephants may gather around her and the calf in an amazing display of unity, protection, and curiosity.

I hope you were amazed at these crazy animal labors. Thanks for reading!

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