We’re all aware of the two parenting extremes in the animal kingdom: a primate such as the orangutan will raise and protect its offspring for as long as ten years, while many types of fish nonchalantly spew eggs into the ocean without a backwards glance.

But what interesting behaviors do we find between the two extremes? How about a cold-blooded reptile that still finds a way to use its body to warm (incubate) its eggs? Indian pythons coil themselves around their unhatched offspring, and make their bodies shiver to create heat and maintain a suitable temperature for the eggs! Once hatched, however, the young snakes are on their own.

Fathers are often absent in the animal world, but the exceptions can be, well, exceptional. Male seahorses have brood pouches in which to carry the female’s eggs, and as the young seahorses hatch and go out into the world, it looks as though the father seahorse is giving birth. Some fathers play a less direct role, but are still occasionally active participants. Tigers live solitary lives, for example, but if a female and cubs come upon a male with a fresh kill, the male will often step back and let them eat first, greeting the cubs by nuzzling them.

Your next Zoobooks issue, Animal Babies, explores these techniques and many others–including animal daycare, and how different animals achieve adult independence. Watch for it in your mailbox soon!

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