Animal Moms that Abandon their Young

Ailuropoda melanoleuca Schoenbrunn 07-2008The animal kingdom is full of wonderful moms, who care for their offspring, often putting their children above themselves. Unfortunately, not all animal moms deserve praise. Due to harsh environments or encroaching predators, many animals abandon their young. If there were Child Protective Services for animals, many of the kingdom’s mothers would be jailed.


There’s no maternal instinct in the reptilian world of snakes. Snake mothers abandon their eggs soon after laying them, never to return again.

Sometimes, a female snake will give birth to a live snake, after having incubated the eggs inside her body. As soon as the creature has left her body a mother snake slithers away never to return. Luckily for snakes, infant snakes are hatched with the ability to take care of themselves.


Lizards, like geckos and chameleons, abandon their eggs to the wild. This is likely why female lizards give birth to such a high amount of eggs. Most of their eggs and offspring fall victim to the elements, so there is safety in numbers. Eggs may be sniffed out by predators and eaten before they’ve even hatched.

If the egg survives and the baby hatches, the baby could still be attacked by a predator or die of starvation. The ones that make it grow up to abandon their own children, something that ensures the survival of their species.

Animals That Abandon Extra Offspring

Some animal mothers abandon offspring in favor of a single child. Pandas almost always have twins, but abandon one twin to the wild. A panda mom makes her selection based on strength, choosing the child she believes has the better chance of survival.

Hooded grebes swim away with the first chick that hatches, abandoning any remaining eggs. It pays to be the first born when your mom’s a hooded grebe.

Animals that Abandon Their Offspring after a Short Period

Some animals, like harp seals, stay with their young for a couple weeks before abandoning them to the elements. Harp seals are notorious for abandoning their pups after approximately 12 days. A harp seal mom leaves her pups on floating ice, after she’s finished lactating. The mortality rate for harp seals is 20 – 30 percent because the elements are harsh, predators are near, and they starve until their plumage comes in and they’re able to swim finally.

Female rabbits feed their young for a period of 25 days, but during that time she’ll avoid her nest. She’s not doing this because she’s selfish, but rather because she’s attempting to protect her babies from would-be predators. Adult rabbits carry a strong scent that predators recognize. By avoiding her nest, where her little ones don’t yet carry a strong scent, she’s essentially protecting them from anything that may be tracking her.

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