While the males of some animal species would never win any "Father of the Year" awards, there are other animal dads who truly step up to the plate when it comes to raising of their offspring. Click to learn more about some of the best animal fathers out there, and thank your own dad for never trying to eat you when you were young.
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The male marmoset is present for the birth of his children, helping his mate and even biting off the umbilical cord at times. He handles most of the responsibilities of caring for his offspring. After the female gives birth, she needs time to recover from the physical strain, because the infants make up 25 percent of her body weight at birth. The male takes on the parenting role while the female becomes disinterested in the infants. He grooms, feeds and carries his offspring on his back. (Source)
The male red fox does a lot for his kits. He stays outside and guards the den during and after the female gives birth. He brings food to her every four to six hours for the first month as she stays in the den with the kits. He continues to provide them with food for about three months, at which point he starts to hide food near the den so he can teach his kits how to find food on their own. The father is very attentive, spending hours at a time playing with his little ones. (Source)
After the female emperor penguin lays a single egg, she leaves on an extended hunting trip. While she is gone, the male emperor penguin cares for the egg. He keeps it balanced on his feet and covered by his "brood pouch." The loose folds of excess skin keep the egg safe and incubated in subzero temperatures and harsh conditions. The father continues to guard and care for the egg with no food of his own until the mother returns. Her trip can last up to two months, during which time the father does not eat and can lose up to 45 percent of his body fat. (Source)
Although the male rhea mates with more than one female, he cares for all of his offspring. He builds a nest for his mating partners to deposit their eggs. There could be up to 15 females leaving their eggs in his nest. He rarely leaves it as he incubates all of the eggs for about six weeks, which could number up to 50 eggs at a time. Once the chicks have hatched, he raises and protects them until they are about 6 months old. (Source)
The male seahorse takes on parenting in a whole new way. He is the one who becomes pregnant and carries his offspring (called "fries") in a brood pouch after the female deposits her eggs there. Through the brood pouch, the soon-to-be father can regulate temperature, blood flow and water salinity for the eggs. He can give birth to anywhere from five to more than 1,000 fries at a time. However, he doesn't continue their care, and the fries are on their own once they are born. (Source)
The male jacana builds a nest in preparation for his offspring. After the female lays her eggs, she leaves and the male jacana takes over their care. He keeps them incubated and protects them from danger. The female only returns if an egg or chick is lost. She mates with the male again to produce a replacement. Once the chicks are born, their father is the one who teaches them how to forage for food. They stay with him for about the first three months of their lives. (Source)
GREAT HORNED OWL
Monogamous great horned owl pairs typically have one to five eggs at a time. The male and female both incubate the eggs. The male travels to find food for his mate while she stays in the nest with their eggs. He continues to feed both his mate and his owlets once they are hatched. Both mother and father are fiercely protective of their owlets, and keep a close eye on them after they are born. (Source)
After a female Darwin's frog lays up to 40 eggs, a male fertilizes them and stands guard until the tadpoles hatch. He then takes them into his mouth and guides them with his tongue to his vocal sac. It is purposefully large to house the tadpoles and extends from his stomach to his groin. Depending on the specific type of Darwin's frog, the father will either release them into a nearby water source or carry them inside him until they are fully grown — which could be up to 50 days — at which time he "spits" them out of his mouth. (Source)
All types of arowana are "mouthbrooders," meaning that the fish is capable of carrying hundreds of eggs in its mouth at a time. The male arowana continues to carry his offspring in his mouth even after they are hatched. He protects them when they are young, sucking them back into his mouth if he senses danger. The young fish typically venture out on their own around five weeks of age. (Source)
Next: Pet Dads With Their Dogs and Cats
GIANT WATER BUG
After each mating ritual, a female giant water bug lays her eggs on her mate's back. This continues until the male has about 150 eggs cemented on his back at one time. He then cares for the eggs, exposing them to oxygen to prevent mold or other organisms growing on them. The eggs can take anywhere from one to three weeks to hatch. Once they do, the glue breaks down, and the egg casings on the male's back fall off. (Source)