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Becoming a mother makes you do surprising (and sometimes gross) things. Don’t worry – you're not alone! Here are a few ways that motherhood creates kindred spirits across the animal kingdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who shows love like a mother! We literally wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for mommas. Whether they start by giving birth or become mothers and mother figures later in life, we rely on them in so many ways.

In honor of their annual celebratory day, let’s spend some time with our furrier, scalier, and feathered counterparts, who often face similar parenting challenges to our own.

Don’t let go!

Image: Baby Spider Monkey Snacking While Clinging to Mom

For their first 10 weeks of life, spider monkey babies, like human babies, are completely dependent on their caretaker for survival. Baby monkeys also like to spend their time clinging to mom (but without a complicated baby carrying device). Luckily for them, they get to swing between trees rather than get strapped into a car seat.

Read more about USGS work on monkeys and other primates.

Mommy and me time.

Image: An Adult Polar Bear and Her Two Cubs
An adult female polar bear and her two cubs travel across the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean north of the Alaska coast.

Giving birth is no easy task. Polar bear moms enter maternity dens for about four months to give birth and then nurture their offspring, somewhat like human moms who take maternity leave. However, polar bear dens are on the sea ice, which could be a bit uncomfortable for those of us used to land!

Read more about USGS work on polar bears.

Hello, World!

This four minute short movie depicts the hatching of a Mojave Desert Tortoise. This is the continuation of a sixty million year process for this threatened species. 

Just as baby humans burst into existence from a snug space, so do Mojave Desert Tortoises! But with less direct pain to the mothers. This adorable hatching tortoise breaks through its shell and waits for its fellow tortoises to start crawling around their container.

Read more about USGS work on Mojave Desert Tortoises.

Feed me!

Thrush feeding babies.

When you hear, WAHHHH or see a little mouth stretched wide, you know your baby is hungry. Momma thrushes get to see a similar sight when their babies are hungry, but instead of a bone chilling scream, they get to listen to musical chirps.

Ready, Set, Fly.

Image: Baby Songbird About To Take Flight

When birds, like this baby songbird, reach the right age, they’re able to take flight to seek food, something baby humans have yet to figure out how to do.

Read more about USGS work on birds.

Hugs and kisses.

Image: Weddell Seal Research at Erebus Bay, Antarctica

It's always important to show mom love! And Weddell seals do it with a kiss. Like their human counterparts, pups really pack on the pounds in their first month of life. They start at approximately 60 pounds (27 kg) at birth and by 6 weeks they can reach about 125 pounds (57 kg)! As far as we know, no human baby has matched this feat, though sometimes it feels like it after lugging them around for extended periods of time.

Read more about USGS work on Weddell seals.

It takes a village (of calories).

two otters - a baby and mom - relax on their backs in Glacier Bay, AK
A sea otter mother feeds her pup in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Credit: Joseph Tomoleoni, USGS

Having a tiny human rely on you for everything takes a lot of energy. Momma sea otters can relate. In the first weeks after giving birth, sea otters use 17% more energy than usual each day. By the end of 6 months of nursing, a mother otter’s daily energy demand increases by 96 percent, and she will have invested nearly 222,275 calories in total towards her pup. That’s a lot of chocolate cakes for a human mom!

Read more about USGS work on sea otters.

Don’t mess with my baby.

Baby American Alligators Hatching
American alligator hatchlings. Courtesy USGS

If you’ve ever thought your mom was super protective over you, you might find yourself relating to a baby alligator. At hatch, mom digs open the nest mound to help hatchlings leave the nest and then stays with her hatchlings for the next one to two years, protecting them from even larger gators and other predators!

Read more about USGS work on alligators and other reptiles.

Do as I do.

Moose cow and calf in early morning fog on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
Moose cow and calf in early morning fog on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. 

I got it from my momma (said a migrating moose). It’s often thought that hooved mammals learn how to migrate rather rely on their genetic coding to know how to do it. USGS scientists are researching this topic to better understand how moose, elk, and other hooved homies find new homes, especially in light of climate change impacts.

Read more about USGS work on ungulate migrations.

Leaving the nest.

Mother duck leaves the nest, followed by her ducklings
A mother duck departs her nest with her ducklings in Suisun Marsh.

There are few things more iconic than an image of a momma duck followed by her ducklings. Although they’re super cute and fluffy, they also need survival skills. Some species of ducklings leave the nest shortly after hatching to avoid predators like coyotes, raccoons, skunks, birds of prey, and snakes. Although human babies stay in their nest for much longer, they must also face their own set of challenges when they’re ready to set off for college or work!

Read more about USGS work on ducklings.

More, please.

If you find yourself wanting more cuteness for Mother’s Day, here’s a story we ran a few years back. Happy Mother's Day!

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