Pregnancy is often considered a beautiful thing but that idea isn’t exclusive to humans. Nearly every creature in the circle of life experiences pregnancy in one form or another and that means they have to deal with bulging bellies and painful labor just like everyone else. Amazingly, some animals can be pregnant for as little as two weeks or as long as two years! These members of the animal kingdom have quite a lot to show for the lives that they bring into this world and you’ll be in awe of what that process looks like.
Jaguars Carry For Three And A Half Months
This jaguar momma is staring down the photographer that took this photo, likely looking out for any apparent threats. Because she appears to be expecting, she might need to spend more time nesting than trying to defend herself.
Female jaguars reach maturity at two years of age and when they are fertile, they will let males know by leaving urinary scent marks and by making noise. Their gestation period lasts for up to 105 days. Jaguars can give birth to up to four cubs at once, but on average will deliver two. Females raise the cubs on their own.
Lionesses Can Deliver Up To Four Cubs At Once
This pregnant lioness is walking with a friend. They’re probably looking for a place to nest since this lioness is about to give birth after 110 days of carrying her cubs. Female lions deliver and raise their cubs in a secluded den, such as a thicket or a cave, away from the rest of the pride.
Like jaguars, lionesses raise the cubs all on their own and don’t tolerate a male presence due to infanticide. After the cubs are born, the lioness will move them one-by-one to a new den site several times a month to avoid predators.
Prairie Dogs Have A Mating Call To Get To This State
Prairie dogs carry their litter for a month on average, depending on which breed they are. These rodents aren’t actually in the canine family despite their name, yet their mating call consists of barking two to 25 times at three- to 15-second intervals.
The mother prairie dogs will nurse their young in a nursery chamber underground for about six weeks. They also spend this time defending the nursery and gathering grass for the nest. It has been argued that young prairie dogs will sleep in chambers with other mothers, but others say they will be killed to protect the territory.
Monk Seal Gestation Lasts Almost A Year
This is a monk seal that looks so done with being pregnant. The gestation period of a monk seal ranges around 11 long months. Like most pinnipeds, monk seals are polygynous. This means that one male will mate with a group of females to protect his territory and assert his dominance.
Many seal species breed on land and will return to the same sites every year for that specific purpose. Monk seal pups don’t make their first contact with water until two weeks after their birth. They are finally weaned at around 19 weeks of age.
Guinea Pigs Are Pregnant For Two Months
Female guinea pigs become fertile as early as four weeks old, which means they can carry litters before they’re even adults. The gestation period for a guinea pig lasts from 59 to 72 days. Due to the size of the pups, pregnant guinea pigs become very large and eggplant-shaped.
On average, a litter will contain three pups. They can have as many as five litters a year and their pups are readily able to move on their own, having well-developed hair, teeth, and claws. However, the pups are partially blind upon birth.
Goats Can Have Triplet Births
This pregnant goat looks like she’s ready to get her kid(s) out of her! Gestation for goats is approximately 150 days, after which they typically give birth to twins. But based on the size of this goat we wouldn’t be surprised if she had triplets, which is also common along with single births.
A goat is ready to deliver when the area around her tail and hip become sunken. She may also start breathing heavily, look worried, and become restless. After the birth, the female goat will eat her own placenta for the nutrients that she needs.
Seahorses Let The Men Do All The Work
When it comes to seahorses, it’s the male that has to deal with the tribulations of pregnancy. Male seahorses have a pouch on the front side of their tails that gets filled with up to 1,500 eggs deposited by a female seahorse.
Before this transaction, the seahorses spend time courting each other to synchronize their reproductive states. The male seahorse carries the babies anywhere from nine to 45 days until the baby seahorses are fully developed but tiny. A male seahorse can release as many as 1,000 young, expelling them with muscular contractions.
Many Cows Don’t See Their Babies After Birth
The gestation period for a cow can last as long as a human’s at nine months, but the precise length of that period really depends on the breed of the cow and the gender of the calf she’s carrying.
Many calves are taken from their mothers within 24 hours of birth and unfortunately aren’t nurtured by their own mother’s milk, which is instead harvested for human consumption. This primarily applies to cows on dairy farms, but studies have shown that calves who are reared by their mothers tend to be more sociable as adults.
Ponies Have Complications During Pregnancy
This pregnant pony is carrying quite a load for being such a small horse. All horse breeds, ponies included, typically carry their foals for a gestation period that lasts around 11 months. For a pony or miniature horse, in particular, gestation lasts around 330 days.
Sadly, mini horses are more susceptible to miscarrying foals or may experience difficulties during delivery. Still, when a pony or mini horse successfully gives birth, the results are beautiful. The foal is weaned from their mothers between four to six months.
Zebra Moms Spend A Year Being Pregnant
This zebra mare looks like her foal is about to pop out at any moment! Though they come from the same genus as horses, zebras will typically carry for a little over a year. Zebra foals are also capable of standing and walking almost immediately after they’re born. Unlike their parents, however, baby zebras are brown and white at birth.
Mare zebras will give birth to one foal at a time and can do so every twelve months. They stay with their babies for up to a year, during which time they protect them from predators.
Squirrels Only Have A Few Weeks To Prepare
Hopefully this squirrel gathered enough food to keep her well nourished for the gift of motherhood she is about to receive! Squirrels don’t have much time to prepare since their gestation is pretty short at three to six weeks.
After that time, they will give birth to babies that are naked, toothless, and blind. Female squirrels tend to their babies entirely by themselves. After six to ten weeks, infant squirrels are weaned from their mothers but take an entire year to venture out on their own, at which point they can start making their own babies.
Cats Can Get Pregnant Up To Three Times A Year
This cat can probably relate to mothers who say they’re "tired of being pregnant" towards the end of their term. Cats probably feel that on a whole different level, considering they can have up to six kittens in one litter!
Cats will be pregnant for a little over two months, which also means that they can give birth up to three times a year. Their first litters will typically be smaller than any subsequent litters. Six to seven weeks after they’re born, kittens are weaned from their mothers but aren’t fully prepared to leave them until 12 weeks.
Macaques Are Attached To Their Offspring
This toque macaque is a type of monkey found in Sri Lanka and she must be excited to give birth considering how tenderly she cradles her baby bump. This species of macaque will carry for around five to six months before giving birth to a single offspring.
Just like this mom holds onto her belly, her offspring will hold on to her for about two months after it arrives. Within this time frame, the baby macaque is taught necessary survival and social skills. Infant macaques’ social status is determined by their mother’s position in the troop.
Sheep Will Endure Labor For Up To Three Hours
Sheep are herd animals and as a result, a group of ewes will mate with a single ram. Ewes can start reproducing when they’re just six to eight months old and will indicate this to nearby rams by emitting a scent during their estrus cycle.
After a gestation for about five months, ewes can be in labor for up to three hours. Most sheep typically will have single or twin lambs, though some have been known to give birth to large litters. The lambs will stand within an hour of being born and start nursing.
Giraffes Give Birth Standing Up
The photographer who saw this giraffe on the East African safari found her all alone and quickly realized it was because she was pregnant and in labor. Her bulging belly is moments away from unleashing a calf.
Giraffes have a gestation period that can last anywhere from 400 to 460 days, the end of which will usually result in a single calf. Giraffes give birth standing up and when the calf falls out of its mother, she grooms it and helps it stand on its new legs. It’s able to run around within a few hours.
Opposums Are Pregnant For Just Two Weeks
This expectant opossum is probably looking for a safe place to deliver the siblings of the little guy on her back. Because they’re marsupials, the joeys usually spend time in the mother’s pouch but will hang onto her back when being traveling to a safe place.
Opossum joeys are born at an early stage since the gestation period lasts for a mere 12 to 14 days! After being born, the joeys have to find their way to the pouch in order to nurse. Opossums usually have large litters but many do not survive when they fail to attach to their mother’s teat.
Pigs Need A Special Spot For Their Piglets
A sow will carry for three to four months before it is ready to give birth to a litter of piglets. Wild hogs and domesticated pigs typically need to farrow, or give birth, in a dry, warm location. Domesticated pigs, for example, will have farrowing pens that are clean and filled with straw.
When it is ready to deliver, the sow will go to its pen and lie on its side. Piglets are born feet first and will come out in their own sacs. Piglets have trouble staying warm on their own, which is why the pen is necessary.
Elephants Are Pregnant For Two Years
This pregnant elephant has a wide load and already has her maternal instincts down, taking care of another young calf. Elephants usually have a gestation period of two years, after which they typically bear one calf, though sometimes they can have twins.
Because calves spend so much time in utero, they can usually stand and walk from the moment they’re born. When a newborn calf arrives, all the adults and other young elephants in the herd will gather around and caress it with their trunks. It takes about a year for an elephant calf to fully develop.
Dogs Don’t Have To Wait That Long
This dog is looking forward to the day she will get to meet her puppies. Dogs will be pregnant for around two to three months, depending on when exactly they become pregnant. Most people say that a dog will have half as many puppies as the number of teats she has, but the litter size varies depending on the size and age of the dog.
Typically, the average litter will have five to six puppies. If a dog has ten teats, that doesn’t necessarily mean she can provide a sufficient amount of nourishment for ten puppies at once.
Pregnancy Makes Ferrets Pull Their Hair Out
If you look real close, this ferret has a growing baby bump in the works! She doesn’t have to wait that long to meet her babies since the gestation of a ferret only lasts around six weeks. When a female ferret, also called a jill, is preparing to give birth, she will start pulling out her own fur in order to build a nest.
When a jill is finally in labor, it’s imperative that she be left alone. Experts say that if a ferret is bothered during labor, the agitation will lead her to kill and eat her own kits.
Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My!
A tiger’s gestational period lasts about three and a half months. She’ll then have a litter, usually with three or four tiger cubs. Litters of up to seven cubs have been observed, but it’s rare for all of the babies to survive in those cases.
Newborn tiger cubs weigh in between 1.75 and 3.5 pounds. The cubs are born completely blind, so they rely on their mother to care fo them.
Different Species Of Otters Have Different Gestation Periods
The different varieties of otters all have different gestation lengths. Both the clawless and the river types have a gestation period of about two months. The giant otter’s gestation period is a little bit longer, averaging about 65 to 70 days. Sea otters carry their young the longest: between four and nine months, with the average length being six months.
They tend to give birth in different places too. Freshwater otters will typically give birth in dens, on dry land, but sea otters give birth to their young in the water. This mother otter is about to give birth outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Baby Koalas Are Called Joeys
Koalas have a breeding season that lasts from August to February. Pregnant koalas carry their young for only 35 days. Females typically produce five or six offspring over the course of their lifetimes.
Shortly after birth, the little joey climbs into its mother’s pouch all by itself. This is quite a feat, since joeys are born blind and have to rely on their other senses to make it to the safety of mommy’s pouch. After 22 weeks in the pouch, a joey’s eyes begin to open and it will soon emerge from the safe spot to venture out in the world.
Panda Pregnancy Is A Tricky Business
This is Caocao, a Giant Panda at a Chinese research and conservation center. The day after this amazing photo was taken, she gave birth to a girl and a boy panda!
Panda reproduction is quite difficult. For starters, females ovulate only once a year and can only conceive for two to three days during that short time. Since pandas are naturally solitary creatures, it means the odds of a fertile female finding a mate (that she’s compatible with) in that brief window is small. Pandas in captivity are helped out with artificial insemination.
A Tiny Mother-To-Be
Mice are notorious for their breeding abilities. Just one female mouse can produce anywhere from 25 to 60 offspring in a year! Once she becomes pregnant, a mouse only has to carry her babies for nine to 21 days before she gives birth.
A litter of mice usually consists of five or six mouse pups, although it’s not that unusual for there to be up to 12 in a single litter. And mice can mate as soon as they’re born, which means that a female can birth a second litter only 25 days after the first. That’s a lot of mice.
That’s Going To Be A Big Baby
In September of 2018, the Buffalo Zoo had some thrilling baby news to announce. “We have a very exciting announcement to make this morning! Just in time for #WorldRhinoDay on Saturday, we would like to announce that Tashi, our greater one-horned rhino is pregnant!” The news is especially important because rhinos are critically endangered worldwide. Tashi was artificially inseminated.
Rhinoceros pregnancies last from about 15 to 16 months and the calves are between 55 and 100 pounds at birth. Rhinos usually only have one baby at a time, although twins do happen sometimes.
This Alpaca Is Pregnant With Twins!
Alpacas are a South American mammal similar to llamas, but alpacas tend to be smaller than llamas. Their fibrous hair is similar to sheep’s wool and is used to make woven and knitted goods.
The gestation period for alpacas ranges from about 335 to 365 days. Alpacas tend to give birth in the morning on sunny days, although of course there are exceptions to this. A baby is called a ‘cria’ and usually weighs between 15 and 19 pounds at birth.
Dolphins Deliver After A Year Of Pregnancy
Since dolphins don’t have a mating season, births happen throughout the year. Females usually ovulate two to seven times a year. When they become pregnant, they’ll carry their baby for about 12 months — a full year!
Since there’s not a lot of room in the mother’s uterus for her large baby to grow, she’ll usually gain more girth everywhere instead of showing a tell-tale bulge like a lot of species. Babies are usually born tail first
It Can Be Hard To Tell A Donkey Is Pregnant
It can be difficult to tell if a female donkey (called a jenny) is expecting during the early stages, but she’ll stay pregnant for between 10 and 14 months before giving birth to her foal. Eleven months is the average. Only one foal is born at a time.
Fun fact: donkey milk packs more protein and sugar than cow’s milk and used to be given to sick children, premature babies, and people with tuberculosis.
Hello, Momma Manatee
Although manatees are also called sea cows, they’re actually more closely related to elephants! During mating, the female cow will be pursued by up to a dozen males called a mating herd. Once she is pregnant, though, the male has nothing to do with rearing the calf.
Manatees have a gestation period similar to dolphins, about 12 months. Calves are born underwater. They’re usually between 4 and 4.5 feet long and weigh between 60-70 pounds.
A Pregnant Cat Goes For A Checkup At The Vet
Did you know that cats can experience a sick feeling that many people compare to humans’ morning sickness? It’s true! Some might refuse their food while others actually regurgitate their food. Anyone who’s been through morning sickness will surely feel sympathy for cats that experience the unpleasant sensation.
The kitty in this photo is patiently receiving an ultrasound to make sure all of her babies are safe and developing the way they should be.
Killer Whales Have Long Gestation Periods
A killer whale’s gestation period usually ranges from 15.7 to 18 months. Females may bear a calf every three to five years, although sometimes they’ll go for up to 10 years between babies.
Only one calf is born at a time. They’re birthed underwater and emerge tail-first, but head-first deliveries have been witnessed in the wild. Calves nurse for a year or two after birth. They prefer to nurse right below water, quite close to the surface.
Hedgehogs Usually Give Birth At Night
A pregnant hedgehog will usually deliver three to five babies in a litter, but litter size can actually range from one to seven. They usually give birth at night or in the early morning.
Fun fact: baby hedgehogs are called hoglets! These tiny babies are blind when they’re born and have tiny quills under the skin that emerge after cleaning. They’ll eventually shed these baby quills and grow adult spines.
Orangutans Carry Their Young For About 9 Months
This is probably not a sight you see every day! Here’s a pregnant orangutan getting a checkup, complete with an ultrasound, from vets.
Just like humans, orangutans have gestation periods of about nine months, although it’s usually closer to eight and a half months. It’s rare for an orangutan to give birth to more than one baby at a time, but twins have occurred. Infants are tiny, small enough to fit in the palm of a human hand.
Meerkat Communities Chip In To Raise Their Young
A meerkat pregnancy only lasts for about 11 weeks, and there are usually three or four babies in a litter. They’re born in underground and grass-lined chambers. Baby meerkats are called kittens, kits, pups, puppies, or cubs.
Meerkats are very social creatures and this extends to raising young. Everyone pitches in to help care for the babies. When a mother goes out to forage for food, she’ll leave her young with other members of the community. Female babysitters sometimes even nurse each other’s babies!
Bat Babies Are Called Pups
Bats might not be everyone’s favorite animal, but the small critters experience pregnancies too, like all mammals. Bat mating tends to occur in the late summer and early autumn. A pregnant female will carry her young for a gestation period lasting from 40 days to six months (there are many different species of bats, each with its own gestation range).
A bat gives birth to one baby, called a pup, that usually weighs about 1/4 as much as the mother. Bat pups nurse just like other animals.
This Cat Looks Ready To Be Done With It!
How many times today have you seen a photo of a pregnant Sphynx cat? There are many varieties of hairless cats, such as Donskoy, Peterbald, Minskin, Elf Cat, and the Sphynx. Although they look a lot different than standard hairy cats, their pregnancy and birthing processes are pretty similar.
Because of their lack of fur, it can sometimes be possible to see the kittens moving inside a pregnant hairless cat’s belly.
This Guinea Pig Is Huge!
We’ve already seen one guinea pig, but this one is too funny not to include as well. This spotted momma-to-be is so big she looks like she could go into labor at any moment!
Although guinea pigs typically carry three babies, this one could very well have more than that. Here’s an interesting fact: the duration of gestation decreases with litter size, so if she does have several babies in there she’ll probably have them soon!
A Pregnant Guppy Is A Sight To See
There are several different ways that fish can reproduce. We might not usually think of them as giving live birth, but some do! Pregnancy in fish usually refers to the time when developing embryos are being incubated in the mother’s body after fertilization.
This photo shows a pregnant guppy. They’re a type of tropical fish called ‘livebearers’ because they give birth to live babies instead of laying eggs the way some other fish do.
A Pig Maternity Party
This is too adorable! A sweet rescued pig named Sophie was given a maternity party to celebrate her upcoming motherhood, and the story went viral. Sophie was abandoned at an Indiana farm, without food or water. Luckily, she was rescued and brought to Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ohio.
The staff there learned that Sophie was expecting and threw her a baby shower, complete with a professional photographer, who admitted to PEOPLE, “I am an animal lover, but have never worked up close with a pig before.”