Giving birth is a major defining moment in the lives of many women. Of course, the discomforts of carrying around a growing human for nine months are greater for some women than for others. At the very least, though, it will slow a woman down from a running to a walking pace near the end. So here’s a little pick-me-up that will make any pregnant woman glad she’s human! Yes, these X-rays of pregnant animals give insight into just how spectacular bringing new life into this world can be.
This cat does not look happy, but then would you be if you were pregnant and hanging from your arms? Plus, while newborn kittens may be tiny, the size of each one no doubt adds up to quite a handful for the mother. For instance, commenters estimated that this particular cat was carrying about six kittens. In cat pregnancies, though, sometimes larger kittens can obscure smaller ones in ultrasounds or X-rays. Therefore, you sometimes end up with more kitties than you bargained for.
The Toronto Wildlife Center picked up this raccoon after she was seen dragging her leg. Shockingly, the subsequent X-rays revealed not only that the animal was pregnant, but also that there were gunshot wounds dangerously close to her babies. It looked like this wounded mom may have been carrying four babies, but raccoons can give birth to as many as six baby “kits.”
If you were to look at the baby in this X-ray out of the context, you could almost mistake it for a human fetus – except, of course, for the tail. Yes, the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, shared this X-ray of a pregnant Francois langur monkey. As primates, Francois langur monkeys have reproduction cycles similar to humans. Indeed, the female of the species can give birth to single babies once a year, after a gestation period of six to seven months.
16. Guinea Pig
Pregnancy is tough for guinea pigs, which carry one to six pups at a time. Furthermore, pregnant guinea pigs are often prone to certain complications. As a result, the critters face a high mortality rate when giving birth. However, in this high-def image shared by X-ray machine manufacturer RadmediX, it appears that the mother is carrying two pups. But two is more than enough, as you can tell by the tight squeeze.
15. Tiger Shark
This may be one of the most frightening visual representations of any animal pregnancy. This is an ultrasound of tiger shark babies inside the womb. Yes, those are full sets of razor sharp shark teeth on each one! Plus, this 12.5-foot-long mother will have her work cut out for her when she gives birth. After all, she was carrying 20 shark pups at the time. Still, females of her species can give birth to as many as 80 young. Typically, baby tiger sharks start out in egg sacs then continue to develop fully for 14 to 16 months. This makes the tiger shark the only species in its family that is ovoviviparous.
This X-ray of a pregnant snake is the stuff of nightmares. While most snakes lay eggs, some snakes – such as boa constrictors and garter snakes – are ovoviviparous, like the tiger shark. This means that the eggs hatch while still inside the mother. Interestingly, though, some sea snakes are even viviparous, meaning that their embryos develop thanks to a placenta attached to the mom.
The chinchilla in this X-ray is carrying four young – more than the normal capacity. Indeed, most chinchilla mothers have litters of only one or two babies because any more puts significant stress on their bodies.
Like humans, bats normally only give birth to one baby at a time. But very much unlike humans, bats can breed two or three times in a season. Naturally, this occurs in the spring when temperatures start to rise and food resources are more plentiful. Incidentally, once baby bats are born, they will often hang out on mom drinking her milk until their wings are fully developed.
11. Bearded Dragon
Female bearded dragons can lay fertile or infertile eggs, depending on whether they’ve been with a mate. If the mom-to-be has mated, though, the eggs usually take five to six weeks to develop. And this particular bearded dragon looks like she’s about to split at the seams with all those eggs crowded inside of her abdomen. Indeed, a vet tech shared this photo of their beardie just days before the dragon was set to give birth to anywhere from 16 to 24 eggs.
10. Amazon parrot
Looking at the size of this egg in relation to the bird’s body should make every pregnant woman thankful she doesn’t share the same proportions. Unsurprisingly, some birds can experience problems laying eggs. This situation is called egg binding if the momma bird’s absorption of calcium and vitamin A and F is poor. After all, birds rely on strong muscles and soft and flexible mucus membranes to help in delivering their charge.
The Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Gloucestershire, England, took this X-ray of a muntjac deer. The mother was in critical condition after being pulled out of a lake with injuries most likely from a dog attack. But the X-ray revealed that it wasn’t just her own life that was in danger. Fascinatingly, the female of this species will stay pregnant for about seven months with a single “kid” – but days after delivering her baby she is ready to breed again.
One astounding thing about kiwi bird eggs is that they can weigh up to a quarter of their mothers’ body mass. That’s comparable to “a human giving birth to a fully formed four year old,” writes the Audubon Society online. However, the advantage of a such a large egg is that the resulting chick can be completely independent once hatched. Indeed, the young bird is fully feathered and has enough food reserves in its belly from the large egg yolk to survive the first two-and-a-half weeks of its life.
7. Tree skink
The skink in this picture – taken at Chatswood Veterinary Clinic in South Wales, Australia – is viviparous with three babies. This means that the babies developed inside their mother with their nutrition served up via a placenta. Generally, tree skink litters are one to three babies, though later litters may have four or more. Curiously, once the little lizards are born, they head straight to branches where they can be found hanging out in the morning.
6. Alaskan Malamute
This dramatic photo of a very pregnant pup went viral, and it’s no surprise why. After all, you can see every detail of the puppies’ tiny, alien-looking skulls and spines, thanks to the state-of-the-art digital X-ray. The Alaskan Malamute momma in the picture is carrying close to 10 puppies. This is an unusual amount; malamutes usually only have five or six in a litter.
5. Havanese dog
This X-ray of a pregnant Havanese dog comes from a breeder called MistyTrails Havanese in British Columbia. However, Havanese dogs can have up to around six puppies, so the fact that the mother in this X-ray only has two indicates a problem. After all, with no other siblings to share the nutrients from mom, the growth of these babies is beyond normal. Therefore, mom will likely need a C-section to get them out.
Depending on the species, chameleons can be either ovoviviparous or oviparous. Either way, the number of eggs a chameleon will gestate depends on its size. For instance, smaller species of chameleon will only carry two to four eggs. However, larger species can lay 80 to 100 eggs at one time!
Check out that trunk! This ultrasound was taken at BioPark Zoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The mother, an Asian elephant named Rozie, was set to give birth in November 2013. An elephant mother like Rozie will carry her baby for up to 22 months. Moreover, a baby elephant will likely weigh up to 260 pounds at birth!
2. Chinese Water Dragon
This Chinese Water Dragon was brought into the Long Beach Animal Hospital when it was having trouble laying eggs. In fact, it soon became ill and required surgery. Therefore, the vets cut into the body cavity on the lizard’s underbelly and the eggs successfully (and graphically) spilled out. Native to Southeast Asia, these tree-climbing lizards lay eggs twice per year and will usually lay eight to 12 eggs at a time.
This X-ray of a pregnant turtle shows the impressive manner in which these reptiles store their eggs. The image was posted by Imgur user circasur, whose family runs an animal hospital. In fact, the turtle had been hit by a car and was being rehabbed at the hospital when she started laying eggs. So out of curiosity to see how many eggs the turtle had left to lay, the vets did an X-ray. It turned out that there were only five remaining. But just how many is normal depends on the species. For instance, the eastern box turtle typically lays three to eight eggs, while some sea turtles can lay as many as 200 in a nest.