These Animal Dads Deserve a Happy Father’s Day

As we celebrate human dads this Father’s Day, let’s also pay tribute to some of the other species that have fathers who go to great lengths to protect and nurture their children. Here are seven species whose amazing dads deserve a happy Father’s Day.

1. Emperor penguin

Emperor penguin mothers and fathers both go through some extreme feats to care for their offspring. After the mother lays an egg, her nutrition is depleted, so she actually leaves the breeding site for a long journey through harsh elements to hunt and bring back food for her soon-to-hatch chick. Meanwhile, it falls to the father to keep the egg warm and safe.

“Males stand and protect their eggs from the elements by balancing them on their feet and covering them with feathered skin known as a brood pouch,” according to National Geographic. “During this two-month bout of babysitting the males eat nothing and are at the mercy of the Antarctic elements.” Once the mothers return, the male penguins are off dad duty and can finally go hunting for themselves.

2. Giant water bug

Giant water bugs have a serious bite. They’re “voracious predators that take down everything from ducklings to venomous snakes,” according to National Geographic. And sometimes water bug fathers even have to defend their offspring from competitive females.

“In some species, males guard egg clutches — as many as five at a time — by protecting them from predators such as ants,” National Geographic says. “In others, females glue their eggs directly onto the males’ backs, and the males tote them around until they hatch into nymphs.” When he’s not defending the eggs from predators, papa bug will air them out and comb through them with his legs to prevent any fungal growth, according to Live Science. It must literally and figuratively be a load off his back once those eggs finally hatch.

3. Jacana

Northern JacanaCredit: phototrip/Getty Images

While female jacanas — shorebirds commonly found in tropical and marshy regions — are out fighting for more territory and taking on multiple mates, the male jacanas are in charge of incubating eggs and tending to their young. In fact, because of this traditional role reversal, early ornithologists actually mistook the male jacanas for females, according to PBS.

But in the case of the jacanas, the roles of each parent make sense for the species. The females are larger and more aggressive, meaning they’re better able to defend their territory. This gives their offspring their best chance for survival. Meanwhile, the dads are left to build nests and do almost all the work in caring for their kids. “Males even have special wing adaptations that allow them to carry two chicks under each wing,” PBS says.

4. Marmoset

These little primates typically give birth to twins. And that understandably takes a major toll on marmoset moms, as newborns can account for more than a quarter of their body weight, according to Scientific American. So it’s dear old dad to the rescue!

“Almost immediately after birth, the marmoset father grooms and licks the newborn to give the female time to recuperate,” Scientific American says. They also help to carry their babies until they’re independently mobile, which is especially helpful when you have twins. Plus, marmoset dads are seriously loyal to their families. “After his babies are born, a marmoset daddy doesn’t look twice at an ovulating female, despite stereotypes that male animals are always out to spread their genes,” according to Live Science.

5. Red fox

red foxCredit: RT-Images/Getty Images

The red fox has a reputation of being sly and cunning. But you should also add family oriented to their list of traits — at least during breeding season. Typically foxes are solitary animals, but both parents care for their young together.

“After a female red fox gives birth, she must stay in her den in order to feed her young and keep them warm,” according to Scientific American. “Therefore, it is up to the male to venture out every six hours or so for food for himself and the mom.” Plus, once the pups get a little older, dad gives mom a break, taking his kids to play and teaching them survival skills. “He will teach them how to hunt, scavenge and escape predators in a variety of ways, including hiding food for the pups to find and roughhousing,” Scientific American says. That sure sounds like a fun dad.

6. Rhea

Rheas — large, flightless birds native to South America — aren’t exactly devoted mates, as the males run in groups of several female birds. But they are extremely dedicated dads. “Up to a dozen lady rheas will lay their eggs in a single nest, leaving the father — which built the nursery and mated with all of them — to safeguard 30 or more eggs at a time,” the National Audubon Society says.

While his chick mamas move on to other mates, the rhea dad stands guard over his nursery. And because he’s flightless, he must charge his adversaries (which, to be fair, is pretty intimidating coming from this big bird). Then, once they hatch, he raises his chicks all on his own before sending them out in the world.

7. Seahorse

pregnant seahorse fatherCredit: Charlotte Bleijenberg/Getty Images

Some dads claim they wish they could take the burden of pregnancy off their partners and carry their children themselves. But seahorses actually walk the walk. It’s the males of this odd little species who get pregnant and give birth to live young.

“The female inserts her oviduct (where anywhere from 50-1,500 eggs will travel through) into the male’s specially adapted brood pouch (located on his abdomen),” according to Scientific American. “When the eggs are in place, the male fertilizes them and clings to a nearby plant and proceeds to wait a few weeks for the eggs to mature.” The female visits him daily during his pregnancy. And once the babies are born, they simply head out into the water where only a few survive to adulthood, which is why the litters are so large.

Main image credit: vladsilver/Getty Images


Leo C
Leo C3 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

Hannah A
Hannah A13 hours ago

thank you

Lisa M
Lisa M18 hours ago


Lisa M
Lisa M18 hours ago


Martin H
Martin H1 days ago

Instinctively caring creatures.

Donna T
Donna T2 days ago

thank you

Carole R
Carole R2 days ago

They're better than some human fathers.

Marija M
Marija M2 days ago


Leo Custer
Leo C4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Danuta W
Danuta W5 days ago

Thank you for sharing