Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers in the Chesapeake watershed. Did you know that the word “mammal” comes from the Latin word for the mammary gland. This gland, found on all mother mammals, releases milk to nurse their young. Can you match these mother mammals with their description?
Little Brown Bat
1. This animal will spend most of its life alone, except for its first year, when it lives with its mom. During that time, the young venture out with their mom at night to learn how to find food. They have adapted to living with humans, and if spotted, should be left alone: These moms are very protective and will attack anything that comes too near to their babies.
2. People often think that this mom’s young are orphans because they are found all by themselves. But this isn’t true, the mom deliberately hides her young in a secluded spot so she can go elsewhere to eat. She frequently returns to nurse her child when the coast is clear, then moves it to a new safe spot. This goes on for about three weeks, or until the baby is old enough to keep up with mom as well as escape from danger.
3. This mom gives birth to many young. The first to find an available teat survive. She carries them in her pouch until they are weaned, about 70–125 days later.
4. This mom must eat more than her body weight nightly — as many as 4,500 insects — to get enough nourishment to nurse her baby.
5. This mom gives birth to her young during hibernation. Between nursing and staying awake to care for her young, she may lose more than a third of her weight over the winter. Females who do not bear young will only lose 15–25 percent of their weight.
2. White-tailed Deer
4. Little Brown Bat
5. Black Bear