Yesterday we showed the love to some of nature’s warm and fuzzy mothers, today it’s a trip straight to the dark side: nature’s meanest mommies. You thought Joan Crawford was bad? “No wire hangers” is nothing compared to the schemes some mothers in the animal kingdom have devised. With plot lines that make Shakespeare’s most sadistic seem sweet, many a mom in nature resort to abandonment, infanticide (often by eating their young, nice), adultery, and murder. That’s a bad mommy. Although to be fair, they really don’t know any better–these are all behaviors developed through evolution to ensure the longevity of the species. It’s a matter of species survival trumping maternal instinct. Still, cannibalism? I think I’m grateful I’m not the runt of a hamster litter–or better yet, a hamster mom…
So in celebration of Mother’s Day and all the lovely things our mothers have done for us–like, not eating us–here’s a rogues’ gallery of some of nature’s seemingly most sinister matriarchs.
Hamsters are darling–furry, cute, cuddly…and notorious baby-eaters. Yikes. According to the all-things-hamster site hamster-zone.com, first-time hamster moms may be so shocked by the whole situation that they feel threatened by the new arrivals and simply eat them to remove the threat. Now that’s a novel solution. Also, first time mothers can produce pups that are undersized or abnormal, thus causing the mother to reject and possibly eat them–or the mother may be craving extra nutrients after giving birth, and if they arenít provided any other way sheíll snack on her young.
If infant hamsters are handled by humans before they reach two weeks of age, the mother may reject the pup, causing her to ignore or…yes, eat them. Itís also believed that this behavior has to do with making sure thereís enough food around to feed the number of pups born. A larger litter than is manageable is often born–but then the mother needs to decrease the litter size to ensure there will be enough food for the the rest.