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Baby on Board!

By Gerry Bishop

A Mother’s Day salute to animal moms that tote their young from here to there. 

Catching a ride with good ol’ Mom can be an important part of growing up for some baby animals. It’s a good way for them to stay safe and get where they need to go!

Baby on Board - May 2016 Ranger Rick

This little guy (above) can forget about that! He and his mother are two-toed sloths. And sloths are among the slowest animals on Earth. Mom can’t give her baby a joy ride. But Junior is safe, snuggled between her front legs as she s-l-o-w-l-y moves along.

The jaws of an alligator are powerful enough to kill a cow. But when a mother carries her babies between her teeth, she’s very gentle. Mother gators build nests on land. After their babies hatch, the mothers carry their young ones to the nearest water.

Baby on Board - May 2016 Ranger Rick

Riding piggyback is a great way to go for a baby Japanese macaque (muh-KAK). This little monkey can walk around just fine. But sometimes her best bet is to hop aboard and hold on tight!

This mother wolf spider laid a bunch of eggs in a sac that she spun of silk and carried around with her. When the eggs hatched, the baby spiders climbed onto Mom’s back. They’ll stay there for a few days before they crawl off into the big, wide world.

Shhhhh! Please don’t wake the sleeping sea otters during naptime. Mom’s thick, waterproof fur keeps her warm in the ice-cold water. And Baby couldn’t have a cozier bed as the pair drifts gently in the ocean current.

You can’t see them all, but this poor mom is carrying seven babies! And that’s not unusual for an opossum. These babies spent their first two months inside Mom’s pouch. Now they’re using their strong paws and grabby tails to hold on to her fur. They’ll ride there for four to six weeks, so hang in there, Mom! 

Baby on Board - May 2016 Ranger Rick

This African lion has been moving her cubs, one by one, to a new den. Moving helps prevent them from being discovered by prowling predators. Mother lions carry their babies by the skin on the backs of their necks. This keeps the cubs calm and quiet, making “moving day” a lot easier for everyone.

As this mother spider monkey swings through the treetops, her little one holds on tight. The baby’s hands, feet, and tail all keep a good grip.

Mother koala has been carrying her baby (called a joey) around in her pouch for about half a year. Now the joey is old enough to poke his head out and look around.

This common loon chick could swim as soon as she hatched. But when she’s tired or wants to get warm, she hops onto Mom’s back. That’s also a safe place to be. Big fish and snapping turtles can’t easily snatch a chick meal when Baby is on board!
 

"Baby on Board!" originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Ranger Rick magazine. Click here for a closer view of the photos. 

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