10 Incredible Tales of Interspecies Nursing

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Image: via YouTube

This article’s title could have easily been ‘Got Milk?’ as it’s all about what infant mammals do best: getting hold of their first food source, breast milk. After all, that’s how mammals got their name: in Latin, ‘mamma’ means breast.

Those who have witnessed a dog, cat or pig surrender to her pestering brood will understand that for moms of many species, nursing is not always easy: the babies pinch, fight, and sure as sherbet bite their tired mother’s teats. Yet there are times when suckling instincts seem just plain odd…


Image: via YouTube

Breastfeeding is one of nature’s wonders, but there are cases of interspecies cooperation that make the mind boggle: yes, we’re talking about interspecies nursing. As we’ll learn, cats, dogs, pigs and sheep are especially generous when it comes to caring and sharing: without a fuss, they’ll push aside their own young to make room for one or several more, regardless of size – or species. But there are also even stranger cases of this behavior, as we’ll soon see. We might also wonder whether interspecies suckling happens more often than we’d guess, as our exposure to it in domesticated animals and pets is by definition limited. So what’s happening in the wild? Enjoy these stories while we speculate.

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Image: Bigstockphoto / arissanjaya

10. Pig and tiger cubs

This example of interspecies nursing is truly incredible: a sow has adopted and is nursing two tiger cubs. What might look Photoshopped at first couldn’t be more real. Like cats and dogs, pigs are clearly capable of nursing the orphaned young of other species. This one doesn’t seem to mind, anyway. With an average litter of 8-12, maybe one or two extra mouths to feed doesn’t matter much to sows. Hats off, we say! And did you know that piglets have also been widely documented suckling mothers of other species – including dogs, and tigers too?

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