Nurturing in Male Animals

My mom wants to know if any male animals care for their offspring, instead of or in addition to the female. She teaches a family studies class, and she is going to talk about biological evidence for theories.

well don’t know if this is what yoru looking for, but…

The sea horse male ‘births’ the ‘seaponies’. Now Im not isre how this happens but IIRC the female lays eggs into a ‘pouch’ in hte male - which he fertilizes. The little ones hatch from the male.

I’m no biologist, but I think this is the only animal that reproduces this way.

Check out penguins’ parenting behaviours. In at least some species (king/emperor?) the father incubates the egg on his feet for months and does not feed during this time.

IIRC, the father ostrich is the guardian of the eggs.

A lot of birds share care. Many species of male fish are in charge of the eggs after they are laid. The male midwife toad carries the eggs.

In mammals a few animals (e.g., marmosets) live in a pair for at least part of the year and the males contribute to raising the young.

There is probably a good deal of care provided by males in pack animals, such as wolves and meercats. Although someone else can correct me on this if I’m wrong.

And we mustn’t forget that the human male often provides a substantial amount of childcare. Willingly, even.

Just kidding about the last one–but I’ve never really understood why we need to make comparisons to animals to justify our behavior. You can find at least one example of just about everything.

In most songbirds, and many other birds, the male provides much of the parental care, from incubation to feeding the young. In a few species, the male provides all or most of the care. These include ostriches, emus, rheas, kiwis, jacanas, and some sandpipers and other shorebirds.

Males sharing in parental care is much rarer in mammals, but it occurs in some carnivores and primates. Offhand I can’t think of any mammals in which parental care is almost exclusively by the male.

As others have pointed out, a variety of male fish and amphibians also care for eggs and/or young.

Male bettas make a nest for their young and care for them until they are independent, about 2 weeks IIRC. Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish.

As others have mentioned, quite a few species have male parental care in part or even occasionally in full.

Well, I’d say it’s instructive to examine animal behavior for a couple reasons: First, so that we better understand the origins of innate human behavior, and second because hundreds of millions of years of evolution can often devise useful strategies better than hours of individual human thinking.

To get back to the OP, as has already been pointed out by k2dave, male seahorses and pipefish brood their young in a pouch on their abdomens and tails. Male humpheads carry eggs above their heads on a hook-like structure and guard them after they’ve hatched. Some cichlids even kidnap young from nearby broods!

Male parental care is especially common in birds (and it’s been suggested that about 90% of bird species exhibit male parental care, but I’ve heard more recently that 90% could be an overestimate), and as Colibri and cher3 have mentioned, many, many species of seabirds, birds of prey, and songbirds share the parental burdens of incubation, food gathering and clutch defense. In fact, in seabirds, it is often the female parent that deserts and/or competes for males instead of the other way around like the sandpipers and jacanas Colibri mentioned.

There are also some amphibian examples of extensive male parental care, but it’s difficult for me to think of mammalian examples… mammalian mating systems tend to depend more on polygyny and males tend to disperse farther than females, so it would be rare for mammals to show a great deal of parental care (although obviously this happens in humans, at least). But then again, maybe I just don’t know enough about mammals to come up with an example.

Male parental care in mammals occurs, though because of the biological dependency on milk it’s obviously going to be impossible for any male mammal to be totally responsible for the offspring the way frogs, birds and fish can be.
The closest to that I can think of would be amongst wolves where males return food to the den for both bitches and young to consume. The defence of young animals against predators has been reported amongst a variety of animals including zebra and wildebeest. All members of a musk oxen herd will defend the young from predators by forming a defensive circle.