People often say that pregnant women give off a visible glow. But is the same true for pregnant animals? Every living thing on this planet reproduces in some way, but pregnancy is an experience that's exclusive to mammals with only a few notable exceptions. Birds, reptiles, insects, and fish lay eggs. Some animals reproduce by division. Mammals give birth to live young, which means that pregnancy is a very difficult (and overweight) journey.
Keep reading to find out what members of the animal kingdom look like when they're pregnant with child... or cub... or foal... or pup...
This Guinea Pig Has Been Pregnant For Two Months
Female guinea pigs reach sexual maturity when they're just two weeks old. Their gestation period lasts for just about two months. usually, guinea pigs five birth to about three pups a time, but their pups are pretty large compared to the young of other rodents. That's why this guinea pig looks so...large.
Because they're only pregnant for two months, guinea pigs can have as many of five litters of pups per year. Guinea pig pups are also born a bit farther along developmentally than most rodents, although they are blind when they're born.
Male Seahorses Do The Childrearing
In almost all other cases, it's the females of a species that have to bear the brunt of the work when it comes to pregnancy and childrearing. When it comes to seahorses, it's just the opposite. Female seahorses deposit their eggs in a pouch on the front side of the male seahorse. She can deposit around 1,500 eggs at a time.
The male seahorse will then carry the fertilized eggs for anywhere from 9 to 45 days until the babies are fully developed. Then the male seahorse will expel the babies from his body through a series of muscular contractions.
Squirrels Only Carry Their Young For Three To Six Weeks
Squirrels have really short gestation periods. This squirrel will only be pregnant for a month or two before she gives birth to three or four babies. Some squirrels can give birth to up to nine babies at a time.
When squirrels are born, they are hairless, toothless, and blind. After being alive for six to ten weeks, the squirrels are weaned from their mothers and start exploring the world on their own. After about a year, those babies can have babies of their own.
Baby Macaques Hold On To Their Mothers For Two Months
This toque macaque from Sri Lanka is about to give birth to a little baby monkey. She's cradling her baby bump just like a human! Monkeys really are just like us. This macaque is probably six months pregnant. Macaques have a gestation period of five to six months, and they typically only give birth to one baby at a time.
After a baby macaque is born, he'll cling to his mother for a full two months while she teaches him the necessary skills for survival.
A Unique Mating Call Got This Prairie Dog Into Her Current Predicament
A prairie dog's gestation period is even shorter than a guinea pig's. Prairie dogs are only pregnant for about a month, which is good news for this female prairie dog who looks like she's about to pop.
Prairie dogs have a unique mating call which consists of barking two to 25 times at three- to 15-second intervals. After this prairie dog gives birth, she will nurse her young in a secluded underground chamber for around six weeks.
This Tiger Is Very Pregnant
Tigers, like lions and jaguars and other big cats, are only pregnant for three and a half months at a time. Usually, tigers have litters of three or four cubs, but there have been cases reported of tigers giving birth to up to seven cubs at a time.
When tiger cubs are born, they only weigh around two pounds. That's much smaller than a human baby even though tigers grow to be much heavier than adult humans.
Elephants Are Pregnant For Two Years
It takes a mother elephant two whole years to grow an elephant calf in her uterus. The elephant in this photo is clearly pregnant, but she already has a calf so she's got some experience in the mothering department.
Elephants typically give birth to one calf at a time, although on rare occasions, they can give birth to twins. Baby elephants do so much developing in the womb that when they're born, they can already walk and stand.
Giraffes Have Long, Difficult Pregnancies
Giraffes have a super long gestation period. These animals are pregnant for 400 to 460 days at a time. They also give birth standing up. After a giraffe calf is born, it's coxed to a standing position by its mother, and within a few hours, it's able to run around.
The giraffe in this photo is actually in labor. She's moments away from meeting her new baby. Giraffes only give birth to one calf at a time.
Baby Koalas Are Almost Born Twice
Koalas have a gestation period that only lasts about a month. They'll breed between August and February, and then within 35 days, a new baby koala is born. That baby koala will then crawl into its mother's pouch and stay there for 22 weeks.
After 22 weeks, the baby koala's eyes begin to open and they're born again from their mother's pouch. When they're 22 weeks old, baby koalas, also known as joeys, can start exploring the treetops on their own.
So Many Puppies, So Little Time
Dogs typically give birth to around five or six puppies at a time. There are usually enough teats to go around, but sometimes puppies have to fight for a spot at their mother's nipples. Also, just because there are enough teats to go around, that doesn't necessarily mean that there's enough milk.
Dogs are only pregnant for around two to three months at a time. Litter size varies based on the age, breed, and size of the dog.
Ponies' Bodies Aren't Built For Pregnancy
Horses and ponies have weird bodies in that their organs just kind of float around in their bodies and they have very delicate digestive and reproductive systems. Horses and ponies carry their foals for 11 months before they give birth.
Mini horses have a particularly hard time carrying foals to term, and many mini horses miscarry or experience complications during delivery. Still, when a mini horse does manage to give birth to a mini foal, it's quite a magical sight to behold.
This Pregnant Guppy Is One Unique Fish
Most fish reproduce by laying eggs, but this guppy is one of the few fish that can reproduce through live birth. This fish's eggs are incubated inside the mother's body after they're fertilized.
This is a photo of a pregnant guppy. Any day now, she'll give birth to a whole bunch of tiny live baby guppies. Then those guppies will go on to reach maturity and have live babies of their own. Look at her little pregnant belly!
Jaguars Have A Very Short Gestation Period
Human mothers carry their babies for nine months before birth, but jaguars are pregnant for a much shorter amount of time. A jaguar's gestation period lasts for 105 days, which is roughly three months.
Female jaguars reach maturity at two years of age, which means that once they reach their second birthday, they're ready to become mothers. Jaguars can give birth to up to four cubs at once, but it's more common for female jaguars to carry two pups at a time.
Opossums Don't Stay Pregnant For Very Long
Opossums are experts at having babies. It only takes two weeks for a mother opossum to grow several babies in her body. Opossums generally have large litters, but not all of the babies survive. Sometimes the little opossums fail to attach to their mother's teat.
The baby opossums, also known as joeys, spend most of their time in their mother's pouch, but when they're in a safe area, they might venture on to her back.
Dolphins Are Born Tail-First
Dolphins don't mate during a particular time of the year, so they can have babies at any time. Female dolphins usually ovulate two to seven times per year, and they have a gestation period of 12 months or one full year.
Dolphins don't have very big bellies when they get pregnant. They kind of just get big all over. When baby dolphins are born, they come out tail-first. Then they spend the first year of their life close to their mother's side as she navigates the ocean.
It Takes Sheep Three Hours To Give Birth
Ewes (AKA female sheep) typically labor for around three hours before giving birth to a single lamb, or on some occasions, twins. Three hours may sound like a lot, but when you consider that humans labor for entire days, three hours seems like a walk in the park.
Sheep can start reproducing when they're just six months old. They carry their young for five months before giving birth. Baby lambs are able to stand up less than an hour after they're born.
Female Manatees Do It All On Their Own
Manatees, also known as sea cows, live underwater, but they're actually quite closely related to elephants. During mating season, multiple males pursue a single female, but once the female gets pregnant, the males leave her alone and she raises her baby all on her own..
Manatees have a gestation period that lasts for about 12 months, which is similar to other undersea mammals such as dolphins and porpoises. Baby manatees are usually between 4 and 4.5 feet long and weigh between 60-70 pounds.
Many Dairy Cows Never Get To Nurse Their Calves
Cows carry their young for a full nine months, just like humans, although how long a particular cow carries her young really does depend on the breed of cow and the gender of the calf she's carrying.
A large percentage of cows in the world are dairy cows that are bred and impregnated to make milk for human consumption. Many of these dairy cows don't get to nurse their own young and are removed from their calves less than 24 hours after they give birth.
Female Ferrets Build Nests Out Of Their Own Hair
This ferret is almost as long as she is wide— ok she's a little bit longer than she is wide, but she's only wide because she's pregnant. Ferrets have a gestation period of around six weeks, so this female ferret doesn't have long to wait before she meets her babies.
When a female ferret, also called a jill, is close to giving birth, she'll start pulling out her own fur in order to fashion a comfortable nest for herself and her babies.
Hedgehogs Usually Give Birth At Night
Hedgehogs usually give birth to three to five babies at a time, although it's possible for them to give birth to up to seven hoglets at a time. That's right, baby hedgehogs are called hoglets. Mother hedgehogs usually give birth at night. These nocturnal animals feel safer under the cover of darkness.
Hedgehogs are born with little soft quills, but eventually, they will shed those baby quills and grow a full set of adult quills.
A Baby Shower For A Pig
This is a photo of a rescue pig named Sophie. Her owners through her a baby shower to celebrate the impending birth of her first piglets. Sophia was abandoned at a farm in Indiana. She had no food or water and her situation looked pretty dire. Luckily, she was rescued by Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ohio.
When the staff at the rescue center learned that Sophie was expecting, they decided to celebrate. he photographer who took this photo admitted to PEOPLE, "I am an animal lover, but have never worked up close with a pig before."
Goats Can Have Triplet Births
Most of the time, goats give birth to one kid at a time, but it is possible for goats to have twins or even triplets. This goat definitely looks like she has more than one baby on the way. The normal gestation period for a goat is approximately 150 days.
When this goat is ready to deliver, she'll start breathing heavily and acting restless. The area around her hips and her tail will start to look sunken. After her kids are born, she'll eat her own placenta for some extra nutrients. Too much information? That's nature.
Lionesses And Jaguars Have Similar Pregnancies
Pictured above is a very pregnant lioness. She is at the end of her pregnancy after carrying her cubs in her body for 110 days. Again, that's just a little over three months. This lioness will likely give birth to two cubs, although she can give birth to up to four (just like jaguars).
She will likely give birth alone, in a secluded cave or den, far away from male lions. Grown male lions can be a threat to newborn cubs and they have even been known to kill their own offspring. We're pretty sure that's not what "The Circle of Life" was getting at... That's why mama lions have to be extra careful.
Cats Are Great At Reproducing
Cats are really good at making more cats. They're only pregnant for a little over two months, which means that they can give birth up to three times per year. They also give birth to as many as six or seven kittens at a time, although their first litters are usually smaller than any subsequent litters.
Six to seven weeks after they're born, kittens are weaned from their mothers. When they're 12 weeks old, they're ready to leave their mothers and go to loving homes.
Monk Seals Stay Pregnant For A Whole Year
After nine months, most human mothers are very ready to meet their babies. Imagine being pregnant for a whole year! Monk seals are polygynous animals, which means that one male will mate with a group of females, and then try to protect his harem from other aggressive males.
Monk seal pups are born on land, and after a full two weeks of life, they'll come in contact with the ocean for the first time. They stop relying on their mothers for food after 19 weeks.
Zebra Moms Stay Pregnant For A Whole Year
Zebra mares have really long gestation periods. They typically carry their young for a whole year before giving birth. This gestation length is comparable to other equine animals like horses and ponies.
This zebra mare looks like she's about to have a foal at any moment! Zebra foals are able to stand up almost immediately after they're born. In a matter of hours, they prance around with no problems at all. While zebras are typically white with black stripes, baby zebras are born with brown stripes.
It's Difficult For Pandas To Get Pregnant
It's been difficult to get the giant panda off of the endangered species list because it's so difficult for female pandas to get pregnant. This is a photo of Caocao, a Giant Panda at a Chinese research and conservation center. This photo was taken a day after she gave birth to twins!
Female pandas only ovulate only once a year, so they only have a two or three-day window in every 365 days in which it's possible for them to conceive. Caocao was impregnated via artificial insemination.
Sea Otters Have Different Pregnancies Than River Otters
Even though sea otters and river otters are both otters, they have very different pregnancies. River otters carry their young for around two months, while sea otters carry their young for an average of six months before giving birth.
Freshwater otters like river otters will typically give birth in dens or on dry land, but sea otters give birth in the water. This mother otter is about to give birth outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
Pigs Are Very Particular About Where They Give Birth
Pigs have a gestation period of three to four months. domesticated pigs are generally provided with a warm, dry place in which they can give birth to their young, but wild pigs actually seek out warm, dry birthing areas. Wild sows look for safe dens and caves. They won't give birth just anywhere.
All pigletsare born feet first, and they're born inside of their birth sacs. A heated pig pen helps keep newborn piglets toasty and warm.
Killer Whales Carry Their Calves For Over A Year
Like other marine mammals, killer whales give birth underwater to one calf at a time. These whales do have a longer gestation period than dolphins and manatees, though. Killer whales stay pregnant for 15.7 to 18 months. Generally, mature female killer whales give birth to a calf every three to five years, although sometimes they'll wait ten years between calves.
Like dolphins, killer whales are born tail-first, although there have been cases observed in the wild where a killer whale is born head first.
How Many Mice Is Too Many Mice?
Mice are known for being able to reproduce quickly and in large numbers. One female mouse can give birth to up to 60 mice babies in just one year. Mice have a gestation period of nine to 21 days.
Mice can have up to 12 pups at a time, although they usually only give birth to five or six at a time. Also, mice are sexually mature pretty much as soon as they're born, so they don't waste any time cranking out even more mice.
A Miracle Baby
This is a photo of Tashi. She's a female rhino who lives at the Buffalo Zoo. In September of 2018, the zoo made a very important announcement on Twitter. They wrote, "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!"
Rhinos are extremely endangered, so this news made conservationists very happy. Rhinoceros pregnancies last from about 15 to 16 months and the calves are between 55 and 100 pounds at birth.
Two Alpacas Are Better Than One
This alpaca is pregnant with twins! Normally, Alpacas only give birth to one calf at a time, but this alpaca got lucky, and she got two for the price of one. Alpacas are native to South America. Their fibrous hair is used for making all kinds of knitted clothing and textiles.
Alpacas stay pregnant for around a year before they give birth. A baby alpaca is called a "cria," and crias usually weigh between 15 and 19 pounds when they're born.
Donkeys Give Birth To One Foal At A Time
During the early stages of a donkey's pregnancy, it can be hard to tell if she's actually pregnant. Female donkeys are called jennies, and they stay pregnant for 10 to 14 months at a time. They only give birth to one foal at a time.
Fun fact: donkey milk contains more protein and sugar than cow's milk and in the past, it used to be given to sick children, premature babies, and people with tuberculosis as medicine.
Cats Get Ultrasounds Too
Domestic animals need medical care while they're pregnant just like humans do. Cats can even experience morning sickness while they're pregnant. Some cats feel nauseous and refuse to eat in the early stages of pregnancy while others regurgitate their food.
The cat in this photo is patiently receiving an ultrasound. The vet is making sure that all of her babies are healthy and developing normally. The ultrasound allows the vet to get a closer look at what's happening inside this animal's body.
Orangutans Are Just Like Humans
Mother orangutans carry their young for nine months, just like people. This is a photo of a pregnant orangutan getting an ultrasound from a team of veterinarians. They're making sure that her baby is developing normally.
Usually, orangutans only give birth to one baby at a time, although there have been cases of orangutans giving birth to twins. Infant orangutans are super tiny. When they're born, they can fi in the palm of a human hand.
Meerkats Know That It Takes A Village
Meerkats are only pregnant for around 11 weeks. They usually give birth to three to four babies at a time. Meerkats give birth underground in grass-lined burrows.
These little animals live in groups, and when one meerkat has a litter of pups, the whole meerkat community pitches in to help her care for them. When a mother meerkat goes looking for food, other female meerkats will babysit for her. Sometimes mother meerkats even nurse each other's babies.
So Many Bats, So Many Pregnancies
Bats mate during the late summer and early autumn. A female bat will carry her young for 40 days to 6 months depending on the type of bat that she is. There are many different kinds of bats, and each bat has its own gestation period.
Typically, bats give birth to just one baby at a time. A baby bat is called a pup. Pups usually weigh about a quarter as much as their mother.
This Cat Is Done Being Pregnant
We've already seen a few pregnant cats on this list, but have you ever seen a pregnant Sphynx cat before? There are many kinds of hairless cats including the Sphynx, Donskoy, Peterbald, Minskin, and the Elf Cat. They all have very similar birthing processes.
Because these cats are hairless, sometimes you can fully see little kittens moving around in the mother cat's body. This cat looks like she's about to burst! She's probably carrying five or six kittens.
This Guinea Pig Is Ready To Become A Mother
We've already seen one guinea pig on this list, but check out this hairless guinea pig who looks like she's just about ready to go into labor.
Guinea pigs usually carry three or four babies at a time, but this guinea pig looks like she could have even more babies in her womb. Each time a guinea pig gets pregnant, the length of her gestation decreases. If this guinea pig has had a litter before, she could give birth at any moment.