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Mother's Day Nature Overachievers

One Tough Mother

No, seriously, don't mess with mama.
This is one mama you definitely don’t want to mess with.

I heard today people were celebrating something. It had something to do with women I think. I’m not sure. Anyway, I had this weird idea to specifically focus an article on mothers… Specifically specifically cheetah mothers.

The first thing to understand about the toughness of cheetah mamas is that they are effectively single mothers. Cheetah daddies eff right the hell off after knocking up the mommies and are never seen again. They don’t have to wait long for company, however.

Gestation for cheetahs is a speedy three months. An average of three to five cubs plop out of mama and immediately become dead weight. She’ll literally drag and carry them from place to place for six weeks before the little freeloaders start walking there themselves.

Throw a capital F on freeloaders, too. It will be no sooner than six months before the little ones will start scoring their own small kills. Mama’s more… special cubs can take up to fifteen months to figure this whole killing thing out!

And providing for that many hungry mouths is no mean feat. Mother cheetah accelerates up to between 40 and 60 mph to capture the next family meal. The act is extremely draining, and can leave mommy dearest panting for up to an hour before she recovers enough to enjoy her meal.

Even then, she might not get to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Larger predators such as lions and especially hyenas may attempt to steal the kill, or even injure or kill one or more of her cubs. The mother cheetah will almost invariably allow the kill to be stolen in exchange for the safety of her and her cubs.

This grueling schedule continues for the mama for an average of thirteen to thirty months. The boys of the family, much like human boys, will wander off to form their own groups and find some fine booty to plunder. The girls will sometimes linger with mama, but eventually drift away as well.

Unlike human boys and girls, they stay away, abandoning the mama cheetah forever. All that work and mother cheetah is left to her own devices. She may eventually be rolled into another group only to be impregnated and left alone once again.

Now if you ask me, that’s one tough mother.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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