For the majority of nature’s creatures, including humans, one of the most basic instincts is to protect your own offspring. But, that doesn’t mean nature doesn’t produce exceptions to the rule in this regard. In the case of some animals, they take what they give: life to their own young. Here’s our list of 5 Animals That Eat Their Young:
1. HamstersHamsters are often considered cute, though they’re also rodents, in the same animal family as rats. Yet mother hamsters are also known for sometimes killing their own young, sometimes due to sheer stress or confusion. First-time mother hamsters may kill their own babies due to excessive stress about maternal responsibilities. In terms of confusion, human owners touching baby hamsters may leave their human scent on the babies, potentially confusing mothers about the identity of their offspring, and contributing to their death.
2. HensHens are a major source of nutrition for many people around the world, in terms of their own meat and the eggs they produce. However, hens are also known to occasionally eat their own eggs, particularly in instances when the shells of their eggs are thin due to insufficient calcium. Diets low in protein for hens have also been attributed to hens feasting on their own eggs.
3. Sloth BearsSloth bears are nocturnal bears indigenous to India. According to the National Geographic, sloth bears are the only bears that carry their young on their back. At the same time, mother sloth bears have been documented eating newborns they may have sensed were sickly to begin with. Other potential explanations include the mothers needing enough nutrition to nurse their other, healthier children, and thus choose to sacrifice the weakest of the bunch to feed other siblings.
4. BullfrogBullfrogs, aquatic animals, are known to have extremely hearty appetites. Their appetites sometimes extend to not only their own species, but also their offspring, depending on the other food options available at the time. Besides sometimes eating its own young, bullfrogs also eat small rodents, snakes, bats, and birds.
5. DolphinsDolphins have been the subject of Disney movies and are known as some of the animal kingdom’s more sociable animals. The male dolphin especially has been seen attacking other female dolphins’ young in order to mate with them faster. Some scientists have attributed the female dolphin’s attack on their young to mating instincts, since once the chosen offspring is dead, the female dolphin is again ready to mate. Typically, female dolphins are able to calve only every 2 to 4 months.
Looking to see some of the animals that eat their young, or similarly out-of-the-ordinary animals in person? Download our Pocket Ranger® apps to find wildlife opportunities near you.