Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

For this special day, I wanted to talk a little about some of the moms and babies we've seen on Chimp&See.  If you've been with us for some time, you might have noticed that babies of certain species are commonly seen on camera, while we see mainly adults of other species.  Why might this be the case?  To begin with, certain life history traits will affect how often we get footage of younger animals.  For example, species that have large litter sizes, breed multiple times every year, and start reproducing at a young age will be more likely to have young individuals show up on camera.  Species that grow very quickly (i.e. they reach adult size sooner) or with high infant mortality are less likely to have young on camera.

Another big factor in determining who we see on camera is behavior.  Most of the animals on C&S are mammals, which means, by definition, their infants need milk until they are old enough to eat solid food.  This poses a problem for mammal moms: how to continue to get enough calories, while simultaneously caring for a newborn.

For some mammals, the solution is to leave the offspring behind in a den or nest.  C&S mammals that use dens or nests include rats, mice, squirrels, mongooses, and cats.  Because the babies of these species are hidden away, they are rarely seen on camera.

Another solution is to cache or park the infants.  Moms that use this strategy will leave the offspring behind for short periods of time, but will come back to nurse and move the infant.  It's similar to nesting, but a nest is often carefully constructed, in a protected location, and used long-term, while a caching spot is a temporary location, and the infant is protected mainly by staying still and quiet.  Many C&S species cache or park their young, including all our duiker species, bushbuck, galagos, and pottos.  We occasionally get to see these guys as they're moved from spot to spot, but they're a special treat.

Another possible solution is simply to have the infant follow mom, though she may have to change her normal pace a bit.  Of the C&S mammals, this is typical behavior for the pig species (red river hogs, bushpigs, giant forest hogs, and warthogs) and for elephants.  Since they're following mom, we see these babies relatively frequently.

The last behavior typically used by C&S mammals is infant carrying.  All monkey and ape species we see on C&S carry their infants -- including the olive colobus, the only Old World monkey known to carry infants in the mouth!  Youngsters of these species are the most common on C&S because they're kept so close to mom.

(As a footnote, these behavior categories aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.  For example, galagos and pottos park their infants, but they also carry them sometimes too.)

Now for the part we've all been waiting for, the mom and baby montage!

To see and comment on these videos, plus more that didn't quite make the cut, check out the moms and babies collection.

Hope to see you over at Chimp&See -- maybe you'll spot one of these animal bundles of joy!

No comments:

Post a Comment