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11 of the Best Animal Dads in the Animal Kingdom

In the animal kingdom, the level of parental care varies greatly from species to species. Some animals, like many egg laying (scientifically known as oviparous) animals do not invest any energy into caring for their young. Some mothers will nurse and look after their offspring for months after giving birth. And some offspring are looked after by both their mother and father! In this article we will introduce some of the best animal dads.

Producing offspring increases an animal’s fitness through passing on one’s genes. In the animal world, passing on your genes is crucial and is of the utmost importance! Most animals that produce only a few offspring at a time, like mammals, typically invest more energy into caring for their young in hopes that this will result in their young growing up to be healthy and strong.

But there are a few other types of animals that provide a great deal of care when raising young!

11 Best animal dads:

In most cases the parenting duties fall on the female, while the father goes on to mate with other females in an attempt to spread his genes as often and as widely as he can. But reproduction and parental care is a costly affair, which is why some animals take a shared approach to caring for their young.

Human dads aren’t the only great fathers, and this list proves just that!

1. Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)

The Common marmoset is a small primate native to East-Central Brazil. These monkeys form small, but tight knit family groups. Interestingly enough, Common marmoset fathers almost act as a midwife during the birth of their offspring and help to clean up the afterbirth. Following the birth, the fathers will help to feed and carry their young and help raise them up.

2. Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.)

Male Seahorses take fatherhood to the next level. While nearly all female animals are responsible for giving birth, it is actually the male Seahorses that carry and then birth their babies. Following mating, females will transfer eggs to the male where he will fertilize them and carry them until they are developed enough to be born.

3. Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)

Emperor penguins, the largest species of penguin make incredible fathers! The female only lays a single egg in a breeding season, making it extra important that the egg is well taken care of. The male will incubate the egg for the entire duration, about two months while the mother heads to the ocean to forage for food. Following hatching, the parents split their parenting duties.

4. Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)

The king of the jungle, the gorilla is an excellent father figure for young gorillas. Male gorillas tend to lead social groups of up to 30 other gorillas, however there is typically only one adult male per troop. This alpha male is in charge of protecting their troop as well as teaching the young how to socialize with other gorillas.

5. Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)

Piping plovers are small, endangered shorebirds that split their parenting duties nearly 50/50. Both parents will take turns sitting on the eggs during incubation while the other parent goes to feed. Males will even create a distraction by acting like they are injured, called a broken wing display to distract potential predators away from their nest or chicks. Male killdeer, a similar species, will also take turns sitting on the eggs and participating in helping to raise the young.

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6. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Image: Pixabay.com

Red fox fathers are both loving and strict. They will bring food to the den after the mother gives birth so that the mother can stay in the den with their kits. Once the kits get to be a bit older, the father will play and run with them. He will also stop bringing food to the den and will instead hide it nearby to teach his young how to find their own food!

7. Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)

The bond between a baby Golden lion tamarin and father is a tight one! After just a couple of weeks, the babies will be clung to their father’s backs nearly 24/7, only being passed back to their mother every few hours to nurse. One they are weaned, the father helps to find food for their babies and will even hand-feed them.

8. Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Greater flamingos have co-parenting down to a science. Both parents are involved in building the nest by pushing up mounds in the mud. The female lays a single egg and then they both take turns incubating the egg. The father also helps to feed it’s chick with it’s crop milk, which is a nutrient-rich fluid excreted from the esophagus.

9. Pouched frog (Assa darlingtoni)

source: Wikimedia Commons | by User:Hexasoft

While amphibians don’t get much recognition for being good fathers, the pouched frog is the exception! These frogs, like many other animals found in Australia have a pouch that they use to carry their young in. The mother lays her eggs, and both parents will guard the eggs. Once the eggs hatch and morph into tadpoles, the father will carry them in his pouch while they continue to develop.

10. Gray wolves (Canis lupus)

image by Raed Mansour via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Wolves are apex predators that form packs that are headed by one male that pairs up with one of the females in the pack. This male will watch over his mate and pups by standing guard outside of their den. Gray wolf fathers will also bring back food to their young and even regurgitate it for the young pups. Alpha males are very territorial and will protect their territory to ward off any other unwelcome males or potential threats.

11. Lions (Panthera leo)

While male lions have a reputation of being lazy, which can be true in some cases, they are actually quite dedicated fathers when it comes to protecting their cubs. Lions form groups called a pride that tend to only have one adult male, the alpha male and several females and his many offspring. Father lions will go to great lengths to not only protect his cubs, but the entire pride from other male lions or any threats.