What Mammal Gives The Least Care To It's Offspring?

I was thinking about how humans generally keep their young with them for 18 years, and the great apes, keep their young with them. I hear elephants do too.

So what about the opposite? What mammals give the least amount of care to their young. Like some turtles, lay the eggs and that’s it.

Do any mammals just give birth and walk away? I know some mammals can run around not too long after being born.

I was thinking this might be hard to answer, as some mammals may be born into the world and while not cared for by the parent, get cared for by a group.

For instance, I thought some mammals, might give birth quickly and have babies that grow up fast, may not get much help from their parents, but they live in groups, which kind of substitute for parental involvement.

Are there any mammals, that basically give birth and walk away? Well as soon as they can anyway

Playpuses (platypi?) lay eggs and are then done with their role in reproduction.

Are they really mammals?

This kind of thing happens with human mothers more than you’d like to think.


Platypuses suckle their young, which necessitates parental care on the part of the female, at least.

ETA: And yes, they’re really mammals, even if they do lay eggs - warmblooded, hairy, produce milk… yep. Mammals. Weird mammals, but mammals.

Re: playtpuses - don’t think so. They produce milk to feed their young (who are hatched, however). From Wiki: The newly hatched young are vulnerable, blind, and hairless, and are fed by the mother’s milk. I’m pretty sure it’s the milk bit that gets them classified as mammals.

They also brood their eggs, keeping them warm.

Platypuses are mammals, but they do not lay eggs and leave. They provide nurturing and care - and a form of “milk” that comes not out of nipples, but sort of oozes and gathers on the belly where the baby platypus can lick it off her fur.

She’s with them day and night for about 5 weeks, and they don’t come out of the den until about 4 months old.

I think this is the rub…With mammals, you’re talking about animals that produce milk. Absent a wet nurse or processed milk substitute, mama’s got to stick around. She can’t leave until they can eat other food.

So while there may be some short lactation cycles, I’d be very surprised if there was a mammal with none at all.

ETA: Doh! Hey, lookit all these replies that got in before me!

As penance, I will link to a picture of baby platypi.

There are differing gestation periods, and also different levels of capabilities of the just born offspring, some are ready shortly after birth, some need a long time to still develop outside the womb (marsupials being a great example). So there is a great level of ‘care’ given inside the womb as well. Perhaps mandatory care, but care none the less as all food and oxygen is provided and CO2 and waste removed. Even egg laying mammals get nutrients through the egg from the parent.

So it may be deceptive to take it as time after birth, as some may be developing on the inside, others on the outside, but all need development time.

Not according to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotreme , they have extended care of their offspring, provide milk, and also the mother nourishes the egg somehow before hatching.

From the above link:

Platypus, like octopus, gets the “pus” from the Greek word for foot, and so you would not form the plural using rules from Latin.

As others have noted, they nurture their young.

As for the OP, no mammals give birth and walk away. “Suckle their young” is one of the key characteristics of being a mammal. You might say that the tiniest mammals, with high metabolisms, very short lifespans and very early weening practices (eg, shrews) fit the bill, but probably a better candidate would be some seals. Relative to their size they can have very short suckling periods-- about 4 weeks for ring seals. That’s not much more than mice.

Actually, Hooded Seals have the shortest lactation period of any mammal, only four days. The rate of weight gain by the pup is extremely fast doubling in size between birth and weaning. The rapid weaning is an adaptation to breeding on unstable ice.

The proper English plural is platypuses. If you wanted to use the Greek plural form, it would be platypodes, but there is really no reason to do so.

OK. I got the right church, wrong pew. :slight_smile:

But that leads to an interesting question: How does one measure care? Four days, being the shortest period of suckling, is one thing, but if the purpose of “care” is to get the baby ready to be on it’s own, the fact that the baby has doubled in weight is another measure. But I’m guessing the OP would simply settle for the former.

The platypus only carries its little Perry for 17 days, but then she stays with the eggs for another 10 days incubating it, leaving to get snacks but mostly living off of fat, and then she nurtures the wee one for 3 to 4 months.

So not platypuses. At least if we start the clock at either egg laying or birth, rather than declaring the “life begins at conception.”

I concurr with the hooded seal.

Weaned in four days and on its own.


This of course excepts from consideration the time the mother is actually carrying the wee beastee - 11 1/2 months of gestation after possibly delaying implantation by up to 3 1/2 months.