Which mammal has the most babies in its lifetime?
The figures below represent the maximum number of babies that a wild female of each species could have in her lifetime. Factors such as food availability will have an impact on these numbers for any individual.
ORANGUTAN BABIES: 3
A female orangutan stays with her mother into her teenage years – the longest childhood dependence duration for any animal in the world, other than human beings.
GIANT PANDA BABIES: 7
Giant panda cubs are proportionately the smallest of placental mammals. At birth they are just just 0.12 per cent of their mother’s weight. It’s about 6-7 per cent for a human.
WHITE RHINO BABIES: 11
Female white rhinos usually give birth for the first time at between six and and seven years old. The calves stay with their mother for three years.
TIGER BABIES: 15
Tiger cubs are at the greatest risk from male tigers who may try to kill them to mate with the female.
AMERICAN BLACK BEAR BABIES: 20
A young black bear requires a lot of attention and stays with its mother for the first 16-17 months.
BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG BABIES: 24
Prairie dog colonies are called towns – the largest ever discovered covered 65,000km2 and was home to 400m animals
NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO BABIES: 54
Nine-banded armadillos hit this tally by giving birth to four identical quadruplets every year of their reproductive life.
VIRGINIA OPOSSUM BABIES: 108
At birth, a baby opossum is the size of a bee and weighs just 0.13g. A female can suckle up to 13 young at the same time.
NORWAY LEMMING BABIES: 192
Norway lemmings start early. A female can get pregnant at just two weeks old.
EUROPEAN RABBIT: 360
An eye-watering number of young, but rabbits need to have lots of babies as only 15 per cent make it through the first year.
These facts originally appeared in BBC Wildlife Magazine's The Big Book of Mammals.
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