Infanticide, the act of killing newborns, is not limited to humans. In fact, infanticide is quite common in the animal kingdom, and some animals even eat their own offspring. Although this behavior may seem shocking to us, it actually has evolutionary advantages in some situations.
Let’s take a look at some animals that engage in this behavior:
- Hamsters: Hamsters are known to eat their own babies if they feel threatened or stressed. This behavior is believed to have evolved as a way to prevent the spread of disease or the attraction of predators. The mother hamster may also consume her young if she senses that they are weak or sickly, as this helps to ensure the survival of the strongest offspring.
- Lions: Male lions will sometimes kill the cubs of rival males in order to increase their own chances of mating with the females in the pride. Female lions may also kill their own cubs if they are in poor health or if they sense that they are not strong enough to survive.
- Polar bears: Polar bears have been known to eat their own cubs in times of food scarcity. In some cases, the mother may also kill and eat her young if they are born prematurely or are sickly.
- Octopuses: Female octopuses have been observed eating their own eggs if they become damaged or contaminated with bacteria. This behavior helps to prevent the spread of infection and ensures that only the healthiest offspring survive.
- Spiders: Female spiders may eat their own eggs if they do not have enough food to sustain themselves. In some species, the male spider will sacrifice himself as a food source for the female after mating, allowing her to produce more offspring.
While the idea of animals eating their own young may seem cruel to us, it is important to remember that these behaviors have evolved over millions of years and serve an important purpose in the survival of the species.