10 Notable Gestation Periods in the Animal Kingdom
The gestation periods of the animal kingdom are varied and fascinating. Some clock in at just a few weeks, making any human green with envy, while others can last more than a year. Here are 10 notable gestation times for animals around the globe. The lesson? Be thankful that you’re not a pregnant elephant.
1. ELEPHANTS: 640-660 DAYS
Elephants are pregnant for a long time. Like really, really long. At an average of 95 weeks, the gestation period is more than double the length of a human pregnancy, so it shouldn't come as a shock that female elephants don't often have more than four offspring during their lifetimes. Who has the time?
2. HIPPOS: 8 MONTHS
Yes, it takes less time to make a hippopotamus than it takes to make a human.
3. GIRAFFE: 14-15 MONTHS
Baby giraffes can weigh more than 150 pounds and can be around 6 feet tall. Another fascinating tidbit: giraffes give birth standing up, so it's pretty normal for a baby to fall 6 feet to the ground.
4. KILLER WHALE: 17 MONTHS
There’s a reason for the long wait: after that 17 months, Baby Shamu emerges weighing anywhere from 265 to 353 pounds and measuring about 8.5 feet long. Yikes.
5. OPOSSUM: 12-13 DAYS
Blink and you'll miss it: This is the shortest gestation period of any mammal in North America. But since the lifespan of an opossum is only two to four years, it makes sense.
6. GERBILS: 25 DAYS
Hey, they get off pretty easy.
7. GORILLAS: 8.5 MONTHS
It's not a huge surprise that their gestational periods are pretty similar to ours, right?
8. BLACK BEAR: 220 DAYS
Also less than a human. Interestingly, cubs might only be 6 to 8 inches in length at birth and are completely hairless.
9. PORCUPINE: 112 DAYS
This is the longest gestation period of any rodent. Thankfully for the mother, porcupine babies (a.k.a. porcupettes) are actually born with soft quills, and it's not until after birth that they harden up.
10. WALRUS: 15 MONTHS
Baby walruses? Kind of adorable. They certainly take their sweet time coming out, though.