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The 9 Worst Moms in the Animal Kingdom

No matter how many mistakes your mother may have made, there’s no way she's in the same class as these animal mothers.

1. Harp Seals

Mothers of these precious little ones are highly dedicated for the first twelve days. In fact, they do not eat at all during that period. Unfortunately, once the feeding is over, that’s it for mother-child bonding—she’s out of there, ready to mate again.

Unlike many other species with such abrupt weaning periods, the harp seal pup can’t go on to survive on its own yet. Instead it is left stranded on the ice for the next month and a half, leaving it incredibly vulnerable to predators. The babies will lose half of their body weight during this lengthy fasting period. Finally, when they are about eight weeks old, they are ready to swim and are able to start hunting for their own food. With a childhood like this, it’s no wonder that at least 30% of all pups die during their first year.

Image courtesy of Luke Bryant's Flickr stream.

2. Cuckoos

Perhaps the most famous bad mother on this list, the cuckoo tricks other birds into raising her own youngster,

freeing her up to enjoy life as a single bird. She does this by laying her eggs in the nest of another bird. Unfortunately for her victims, the cuckoo chick is hardly a grateful adoptee. Instead, the chick hatches earlier and grows faster than the other bird’s real brood, forcing the smaller chicks out of the nest to die.

Image courtesy of Per Harald Olsen.

3. House Sparrows

While most women would be furious if their husband cheated on them, few would choose to take it out on any offspring that resulted from the infidelity. But that’s just what the house sparrow does — she seeks out nests of other females that mated with her partner and kills the resulting chicks. This way, her baby’s daddy will spend his time fathering her own youngsters. Just imagine finding out your mom killed your half-brother so your dad would spend more time with you.

Image courtesy of gingiber's Flickr stream.

4. Pandas

I know, it’s hard to think anything negative about these adorably cuddly critters, but the reality is that they’re pretty negligent parents. In fact, despite the fact that pandas often have twins, they almost never care for more than one cub. The mom will choose the weaker of the two babies and start ignoring him or her in favor of the stronger sibling.

To be fair, it’s not entirely her fault; bamboo is notoriously low in nutrients, so it’s near impossible for a mother to make enough milk to feed two cubs. Even so, it’s a harsh decision for a mother to make. At least the cubs abandoned in zoos are still cared for since zookeepers don't have to worry about limited milk production like the cub's natural mothers do.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user colegota.

5. Black Bears

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the black bear generally has two or three cubs at a time. Unfortunately, when she only has one cub, the mother will often abandon it, deciding that raising only one baby just isn’t worth her effort.

6. Black Eagles

Any mother with more than one child can tell you just how irritating sibling squabbles are, but most parents know when to say enough is enough and to break it up. When it comes to black eagles though, mom often just watches the fight, even when the older, stronger chick ends up killing the younger sibling.

Image courtesy of Qihui Hanabi's Flickr stream.

7. Rabbits

If you ever thought your mom didn’t have enough time for you when you were young, just be glad you weren’t born a bunny. Rabbit mothers immediately leave the burrow after giving birth and only stop by for a few minutes each day afterwards in order to feed the litter. After less than a month, the youngsters are left to fend for themselves. In the rabbit’s defense, she’s actually helping her babies by minimizing the chance the burrow will be found by predators.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Rklawton.

8. Burying Beetles

Burying beetles are big believers in the idea that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The larvae live in a mouse carcass and get fed as mom consumes the dead creature and regurgitates the meat to her kids. Unfortunately, there’s not enough mouse meat for everyone, so the ones that get mom’s attention get fed first…the rest get eaten by their own mother.

Image courtesy of gailhampshire's Flickr.

9. Skinks

What’s a protective lizard mother to do when there are too many predators around her egg clutch? Well, if you’re a skink, you say, “better luck next time,” and eat the eggs before they get a chance to hatch. I guess it’s better that your parenting efforts benefit your species rather than your predators, but it’s still a little weird to dive into cannibalism without even giving your babies a chance at life.

Image courtesy of ecotist's Flickr stream.
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With these traumatic childhoods in mind, suddenly your own mother’s mistakes seem a lot smaller, don’t they? Well then, Happy Mother’s Day!

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© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Animals
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Hires Puppy to Sniff Out Art-Munching Bugs
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some dogs are qualified to work at hospitals, fire departments, and airports, but one place you don’t normally see a pooch is in the halls of a fine art museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is changing that: As The Boston Globe reports, a young Weimaraner named Riley is the institution’s newest volunteer.

Even without a background in art restoration, Riley will be essential in maintaining the quality of the museum's masterpieces. His job is to sniff out the wood- and canvas-munching pests lurking in the museum’s collection. During the next few months, Riley will be trained to identify the scents of bugs that pose the biggest threat to the museum’s paintings and other artifacts. (Moths, termites, and beetles are some of the worst offenders.)

Some infestations can be spotted with the naked eye, but when that's impossible, the museum staff will rely on Riley to draw attention to the problem after inspecting an object. From there, staff members can examine the piece more closely and pinpoint the source before it spreads.

Riley is just one additional resource for the MFA’s existing pest control program. As far as the museum knows, it's rare for institutions facing similar problems to hire canine help. If the experiment is successful, bug-sniffing dogs may become a common sight in art museums around the world.

[h/t The Boston Globe]

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50 of America’s Most Bed Bug-Infested Cities
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It’s easy to find advice on dealing with bed bug infestations, but most people would rather avoid encounters with the parasites in the first place. There are a few ways to do this, from staying at trustworthy hotels to resisting the urge to take in furniture you find on the street. But which part of the country you choose to rest your head can also determine your chances of running into the pests. Before planning your next trip, refer to the list below.

As Condé Nast Traveler reports, these cities come from Orkin’s annual list of the top 50 bed bug cities in America. The pest control company pulled their data from the number of bed bug treatments executed between December 1, 2016 and November 30, 2017. These results cover residential buildings like apartments and houses as well as hotels and motels.

Bed bug infestations are on the rise across the country, according to Orkin entomologist Dr. Tim Husen, but the problem is more apparent in some cities than others. Baltimore tops the list for the second year in a row, followed by Washington D.C. and Chicago. Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas also break the top 10.

A quick glance at the list shows that no part of the country is safe from the unwelcome bedfellows. That doesn’t mean the solution is to sterilize your home and never step outside again: Just be aware if you're living in or a visiting a city with high rates of bed bugs and take the appropriate level of caution. When sleeping in a new bed, no matter what city it’s in, it’s always a good idea to check the mattress first. Pull back the sheets and scan the crevices for blood, eggs, droppings, and the bugs themselves. And if you’re not sure what bed bugs look like, this guide should give you an idea.

Here is the full list:

1. Baltimore

2. Washington, D.C.

3. Chicago

4. Los Angeles

5. Columbus, Ohio

6. Cincinnati, Ohio

7. Detroit

8. New York

9. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose

10. Dallas-Fort Worth

11. Indianapolis, Indiana

12. Philadelphia

13. Atlanta

14. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio

15. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

16. Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia

17. Houston

18. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Virginia

19. Charlotte, North Carolina

20. Buffalo, New York

21. Knoxville, Tennessee

22. Nashville, Tennessee

23. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan

24. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

25. Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina-Asheville, North Carolina

26. Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Illinois

27. Phoenix

28. Denver

29. Milwaukee

30. Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut

31. Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia

32. Boston

33. Syracuse, New York

34. Dayton, Ohio

35. St. Louis, Missouri

36. Seattle

37. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale

38. Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Michigan

39. Omaha, Nebraska

40. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque, Iowa

41. San Diego, California

42. Lexington, Kentucky

43. Honolulu, Hawaii

44. Louisville, Kentucky

45. Las Vegas

46. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, North Carolina

47. New Orleans, Louisiana

48. Myrtle Beach-Florence, South Carolina

49. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

50. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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