The Freakiest Childhoods in the Animal Kingdom

Most animals, especially mammals, have shown to be very caring and fiercely protective of their young, while other species do a complete 180 and barely acknowledge their offsprings. These differing experiences make for a very unique childhood that varies from species to species. Some animals survive what seems like hell, only for them to repeat the vicious cycle with the new generation.

1. Tasmanian Devils

Don’t let their cute appearance fool you, Tasmanian devils are appropriately named so due to their aggressive behavior that comes out whenever they are threatened or competing for food. As for their young, Tasmanian devils are known to give birth to up to 50 joeys at a time that are no larger than grains of rice. They’re also pink, hairless and completely blind. The real kicker is that there’s only four teats available, and all 50 joeys must race to their mother’s pouch some three inches away. Once they’ve latched on, the four joeys will remain there for the next three months while the remaining siblings die a few minutes later.

2. Cuckoo Birds

Cuckoo birds are a tricky bunch. Instead of raising their own kids, the mother cuckoos prefer to delegate that task to some unsuspecting bird by laying their eggs in a nest that isn’t their own. They never bother to check on their chicks either. Once hatched, the clueless mother will raise the baby cuckoo as its own, even when it has outgrown its adoptive parents. Its real chicks however, often go hungry and many even starve to death before reaching adulthood.

3. Adactylidium Mites

Adactylidium mites are a species of parasitic microscopic arachnids that exclusively live on the eggs of tiny insects called thrips. Inside the body of every female adactylidium mite are several unborn females and only one male, whose sole purpose is to impregnate all of his sisters before they are born. The surviving sisters then burst out of their mother’s body, while their dead brothers remain in her corpse. Once on the other side, the female sisters will then follow in the footsteps of their mother by repeating the same gruesome cycle.

4. Cannibal Tadpoles

Spadefoot toads are generally found in arid climates where they often dig underground beneath ponds, creek-beds and many other moisture-retaining areas. As a way to combat the brutal dry season, the tadpoles of these frogs have evolved into two main types: the omnivores that feed on algae, carrion and small insects, and carnivores that feast upon their smaller, weaker tadpoles. Those born omnivores are even able to transform into carnivores when the surrounding water begins to dry up. Though, many have been seen avoiding making their immediate siblings their next meal.

5. Cuttlefish

Like squids, cuttlefish are highly intelligent creatures which is especially evident when they hunt for food. In fact, cuttlefish begin taking notes of their environment from a very young age, way before they even hatch. While still in their transparent eggs, the brains and eyes of cuttlefish are already well developed, allowing them to pick up on important cues from all around them. Studies have even shown that their hunting style and preferred prey are heavily influenced by this period of their life.

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