In the wild, females take on most of the responsibility in raising their offspring. Some mothers have help from their partners or close relatives, but many care for their babies all on their own. There are many amazing independent mothers in the animal kingdom, who go to great lengths to ensure the survival of their offspring!
Wolf spiders (Lycosidae Family)
The female wolf spider takes great care in protecting her offspring. After laying several dozen eggs the mother wolf spider wraps them in silk, creating an egg sac. She then attaches the egg sac to her spinnerets and carries it with her wherever she goes. If she is separated from her egg sac she will furiously search for it, and is increasingly aggressive until the sac is found. After her eggs hatch she continues to care for her spiderlings, carrying them on her back until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
The female Giant Pacific Octopus lays one huge clutch of 10,000 eggs in her ocean lair. Caring for such a large quantity of eggs takes an enormous amount of energy as she must keep them clean, supplied with oxygen and safe from predators. The mother octopus spends so much time caring for her eggs that she will not eat until her eggs hatch 6 months after she lays them! When she finally leaves her lair, she is too weak to defend herself from predators and will likely die shortly after her hatchlings emerge.
Orangutans (Pongo genus)
Like most mammals, the female orangutan is the sole caregiver for her offspring. She’ll look after each baby for 8 years – longer than any other animal single parent. During the first 4 months of a baby’s life, it will never break physical contact with its mother, clinging to her belly the whole time. Infant orangutans are completely dependent on their mother for their first two years of life. In this time, the child learns important skills and behaviours. One of the most complex is how to build a nest. Orangutans make a new nest in the forest canopy every night which must be strong and secure. Young orangutans start to practice nest-building at 6 months old, but it takes 3-4 years for them to really learn how to construct one properly. Orangutan mothers have a very important role to play in raising her young, and it is important for female orangutans to develop the necessary expertise to raise their own babies. That is why female orangutans remain with their mothers much longer than the males to learn these essential maternal skills.
Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos horribilis)
The female Grizzly Bear must eat extensively in the summer and fall to build up sufficient fat reserve to survive the winter in their den. This is especially important for pregnant females, as they give birth to their cubs in January or February and nurse them until they emerge from the den in April or May. A Grizzly mother spends two to three years raising her cubs, and fiercely protects them from predators.