Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, 2018
For our Lathrop creatures, it’s good to have babies as soon in the new year as possible, so the babies can grow big and strong during the summer. But problem: if a baby is born now, how do you keep it warm and fed in a Massachusetts winter? Some of our Lathrop creatures have to wait for warmer weather, but some have solved the problem and are having their babies right now.
Our birds have to wait for warmer weather so they can keep the eggs and chicks warm in a mud-and-grass nest. Frogs don’t have to care for their young, but they can’t hop to a pond, mate, and lay eggs until the water, and their own bodies, warm up in spring. Continue reading January Babies→
Our black bears are mostly sleeping away the winterin their dens, but mama does wake up in January or February for one important event–giving birth.She’ll have 1-4 cubs, though 2 are most common.
The newborns, less than a pound, are blind and hairless.Mama stays sufficiently awake to avoid lying on them and make it easy for them to nurse.Her milk must get them up to 4-6 pounds by spring.Nursing, with no food for herself, she may lose up to 1/3 of her body weight, while non-nursing bears lose only 15-25%. Continue reading Birth Announcement–We Hope→
In an earlier column about bears coming out of hibernation, I asked whether anyone had seen bears yet this spring on Lathrop land.
Well, sure enough, Carol Neubert sent me photos taken about April 6. She writes:
At about 9:00 in the morning Mama Bear and her two cubs appeared in our backyard. Mama went over to the tree line, lazily reclined on her back, and the two cubs proceeded to nurse. Two of our grandchildren (ages 6 and 3) were visiting and, needless-to-say, the bear visit was the highpoint of their stay.
If you think that this picture of the nursing mom looks like a huge blob of cubs pouncing on her–well, that’s how she might feel.
She’s been nursing them since January, in her den. Their birth weight was under one pound–the smallest birth weight in relation to the mother of any placental mammal. As they have grown big and strong, she may have lost up to a third of her body weight, which was 90-175 pounds. Now she is eating grass, herbs, Continue reading It’s Not Easy Being a Mama Bear→