Fatherly Stuff: Awesome Fathers in the Animal Kingdom that Will Put you to Shame

Mar 12, 2012

Awesome Fathers in the Animal Kingdom that Will Put you to Shame

The fatherhood role in our society has shifted dramatically over the years. In my grandfather's time, men typically had a virtually non-existent part in child care during the first few years of life.
For example: My grandfather would tell me that back then, how it was common for men to sit in a separate waiting room while their wife went into labor and that the idea of a man changing diapers was virtually unheard of. Now compare that to my experience, where I was there for every step of my son's birth, from labor pains to cutting the umbilical cord. Not to mention, I've changed so many dirty diapers that my wife and I would play "rock, paper, scissors" to see who would change the next one. This is now considered the norm.
I am not saying all of this to brag; I'm using this example to highlight the stark difference of what it means to be a father today versus the historical model and I am proud to be apart of the upward trend.

 What is shocking to me is while this increased hands-on approach to fatherhood is more or less just starting to come around, there are examples in the animal kingdom of truly dedicated, nurturing dads that have been ahead of the curve and for hundreds of years.

You would be amazed at the many examples, but I’m going to list the top 5 that I found the most interesting. Perhaps we can all look towards these creatures and learn from them:



1. Emperor Penguins


Anyone that has seen the movie, " Happy Feet" knows how devoted these fathers are. As largest known species of Penguin, they are exclusively found in Antarctica. If that wasn't bad enough, their mating season of choice is winter, which can reach temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit When the female penguin lays their egg, the dad takes over all parental duties and keeps it warm by balancing the egg on his feet, which can take up to 9 weeks, until the baby hatches. This is truly an admirable feat, considering they stay in one place the entire time, while withstanding bitter temperatures and eating nothing, all for the sake for their chick.










2.  Seahorse


What makes the daddy seahorse so unique and kinda weird is the fact that they take on a role that's typically reserved for females in every other species on the planet. When two seahorses, er, procreate, the female connects itself to the male and inserts her eggs into his pouch , effectively impregnating the male (sexy much?). He then carries his brood (which can be up to as many as 1,500 babies), for up to 10 weeks, depending on the species. The world hasn't seen anything this amazing since the movie, Junior.


3.   Red Fox





      The most distinguishing characteristic of the male Red Fox is the amount attention they give to their cubs. When the cubs are first born, they spend the first month feeding from their mother, who is unable to leave the den at all during this time. The male fox provides food for her every 4-6 hours until she is able to hunt on her own. Once the cubs are old enough, the dad plays with them constantly and teaches them useful skills like how to hunt and forage for food, until they can fend for themselves.

Here's a  cool YouTube clip of a father and son cub in action:






4.   Catfish

The Catfish may be one of the most unlikely animals on this list, but these guys show one of the most extensive displays of paternal care in the fish world. The father keeps about 48 marble size eggs in his mouth, a process called mouth brooding. This can last for up to 60 days and the entire time, he refuses to eat, opting for starvation rather than accidentally eating an egg. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.









5. GiantWater Bugs

These insects may not be the prettiest in the world, but in the eyes of a Water Bug dad, they must be beautiful. He personifies the term, "carrying the family on his shoulders". Once the male and female mate, she glues the eggs (up to 150) to the male's back. From that point on, the responsibility of the children rest solely on dad. It carries the eggs around for about three weeks, protecting them from predators and parasites. He also strokes the eggs regularly to keep them clean. He will go through this process about three times per mating season. If you ever spot one of these guys, you'll want to make sure you keep a safe distance: their bite injects a paralyzing toxin that is considered one of the most painful in the insect world. When it comes to his eggs, this dad will protect them at all costs.


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