Top 10 Animal Dads
By Animal Planet
Mom is often the first to get props when it comes to raising the kids, but let’s not forget to give Dad credit where credit is due. The best dads in the animal kingdom will go to great lengths when it comes to parenting, whether it’s turning a blind eye while their lady is sleeping around or sacrificing their very lives for their children. Check out 10 dedicated dads from around the globe that have earned their Father’s Day tie and then some.
Our first dad just barely makes the cut. While the lion earns points for being fiercely protective of his family, unfortunately he’s also a real snoozer, more often than not sleeping when he should be keeping a closer eye on his kids. But beware, because when this dad IS awake, you don’t want to mess with him. A lion’s eyesight is five times better than a human’s, and the king of the jungle can hear prey across the savanna up to two miles away! Also, this is one dad that could use a minivan — actually, make that a bus. Lions head up large family units called prides that can include up to seven lionesses and 20 cubs!
This marsupial mouse from Australia makes the list due to his sheer tenacity when it comes to making love. While most guys would die to get a little action, this guy actually dies WHEN he gets a little action. Well not a little, more like a LOT. The antechinus can spend up to 12 hours having sex! In fact, this super-mouse gets so distracted he forgets to eat, drink and sleep. Between that and the steroids that build up in his blood, he doesn’t stand a chance. His mate makes the most of it, filling herself up with sperm until the end of the breeding season. But don’t feel too sad about the passing of dear old Dad. With him out of the picture, there’s more food for those left behind — plus he likely died a very happy mouse!
Image credit: badoo_tealeaf / Flickr
8. GOLDEN JACKAL
A native of India, the golden jackal is a real stand-up kind of dad. Hunting three times more effectively when working in pairs, these skillful scavengers remain remarkably loyal partners; unlike so many other animals, jackals mate for life. On top of earning gold stars for being the poster dad for monogamy, the golden jackal also knows a thing or two about keeping the grocery bills down — this dad feeds his kids with regurgitated food. Hm. On second thought, that may be taking the “hand me down” concept a little too far.
Image credit: Paul Mannix / Flickr
7. GIANT WATERBUG
The giant waterbug of Japan is a surprisingly strong and fierce hunter, paralyzing prey such as frogs by injecting them with toxins. Pregnancy is also a real team effort with these creatures — Mom cements her eggs to Daddy waterbug’s back; he then carries them around for a week until they hatch. And we’re not talking just one egg — this dad ends up giving piggyback rides to up to 150 kids!
Image credit: National Park Service
At first glance it might seem like these South American flightless birds have a rather unusual mating arrangement. A polygamous species, the male runs around with a harem of anywhere between two and 12 females. But before you raise an eyebrow, take note: these dads carry their weight and then some when it comes to child rearing. Females leave their eggs with Dad, running off to get some action from other males. Meanwhile, Dad looks after the kids, not only incubating up to 60 eggs for over two months with just two weeks of food to sustain him, but also raising the newborn chicks as a single parent for nearly two years. And this dad is not afraid to charge at anyone — be it other female rheas or even humans! — who make the mistake of trying to get near his brood.
This scrappy little fish has a real game plan when it comes to attracting females: a secret, sticky weapon called “stickleback glue” (which is not something you’ll likely find in the school-supplies aisle anytime soon). The male uses this secretion, which is produced by his kidneys, to create a “love nest.” Once built, it’s just a matter of time before the females come a-knocking, but they shouldn’t get too attached. Once he knocks up a female and she lays her eggs, the stickleback kicks her to the curb and starts looking for new booty. But this is no deadbeat dad: he keeps the eggs oxygen-rich and waste-free by fanning them at 400 beats per minute for more than half the day — now that’s quite a workout!
Image credit: JaySo83 / WikiCommons
The jacana is also known as the “lily trotter,” thanks to its ability to “walk on water” by balancing on lily pads, but this Dad could use a little more balance in his personal life. This determined bird will go to extremes to become a dad. After building his nest, he finds his mate and they do the deed. But after the female has laid her eggs, she abandons the poor sap to run off with other guys. Meanwhile, Dad remains on the nest, watching over the eggs to protect them — sometimes from their own mother! Female jacanas often return and smash their own eggs; however, this is a surprisingly forgiving dad. Instead of pressing charges, he just jumps back in the sack and gives it another go, regardless of the fact that his lady has so many partners and he never really knows if he’s raising his own. Quick, someone page Maury Povich and get these guys a paternity test!
3. GIANT AFRICAN BULLFROG
The giant African bullfrog is a dad with a very special talent — he can eat anything that he can fit into his mouth. Not sure how much that helps in terms of child rearing, but with over 6,000 little ones to raise it’s got to come in handy sometimes. The South American Darwin frog is also a remarkable dad, thanks to his unique method for protecting his eggs: he swallows them, keeping them tucked inside his vocal sacs for six weeks. When they’re ready to hatch, it’s like morning sickness gone wrong — very wrong. This dedicated father essentially “vomits” up his children. Anyone got some mouthwash?
2. EMPEROR PENGUIN
This dad earns his spot for his incredible endurance. The emperor penguin breeds in Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth. We’re talking 72 degrees below Fahrenheit — brr! After Mom lays her egg, it’s Dad’s job to keep it warm. Meanwhile, the female takes a two-month feeding sabbatical while the male balances the egg on his feet in subzero weather, often forced to huddle together with other dads for warmth until their chicks hatch. Despite not having eaten for months, it’s Dad who provides the baby’s first meal — a milky-type substance to sustain them until Mom can return with a belly full of fish and switch the chick from “breast milk” to solids. It’s role reversal at its finest!
The male seahorse tops our list and here’s why: not only is he monogamous, but this creature is actually the one who gets pregnant, carrying up to 1,000 babies at a time! The mating process begins with a dancing courtship ritual of sorts with the female eventually laying hundreds of eggs inside the male, which he then helps fertilize himself during the process. This papa-to-be also loves to show off his rounded belly, proudly displaying the brood pouch he uses for carrying his young. However, before anyone nominates the male seahorse for Father of the Year, you might want to hold your horses (pun intended) — this dad has been known to eat a few of his offspring as well. Hey, nobody’s perfect!
Image credit: shellac / Flickr