Pregnant for Years?! 20 Animals with Very Long Pregnancies

Pregnancy is a special place that women go to, a land where most men (okay all men) are not allowed.

Oh yeah, we can stand at the gates and peek inside, but that doesn’t really add up to much. Men are, for all intents and purposes, totally excluded from the trials and tribulations of  pregnancy. We hardly get a taste of the magic, and likewise, for better or for worse, we pretty much never feel sick, bloated, congested, achy, exhausted, or lightly homicidal because of the baby that will never ever grow down in our beer bellies.

And yet for guys or girls like me whose partner gets pregnant, the long winding road of gestation that our mates must travel down is an epic, awe-inspiring feat.

I mean: how the hell do they do it? How do females create and carry a tiny human inside of them until it ain’t really so tiny at all? It is one of the great mysteries of our world, this baby thing, and I will probably always admire every single woman who spends about nine months doing all of the hard work when it comes to making a kid.

That said there are some other critters out there in the animal kingdom who take things up a notch when it comes to pregnancy. I guess I hadn’t really ever thought about it before, but there are quite a few animals whose gestation period goes longer, in a lot of cases MUCH LONGER, than a human’s does.

I’ve compiled a bunch of them for you to check out. It’s pretty remarkable, actually.

Unless you’re a pregnant giraffe.

Then, it probably just sucks really, really bad.

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  • Cow 2 of 21

    Cows aren't typically pregnant for too much longer than a human, yet with calves usually born at 10 months, they still have us beat.


  • Horse 3 of 21

    Mares are typically pregnant for 11-12 months. Imagine carrying a baby horse around inside of you? It must feel like you housed an eighty-pound meatloaf.


  • Sea Lion 4 of 21

    Sea lions usually give birth to their pups after 11 or 12 months of pregnancy. And then they have the cutest baby on Earth.



  • Llama 5 of 21

    Llama mamas carry their young for 11-12 months. Compared to us humans, that's an extra bunch of weeks for them to waddle around and stare at the sun and wish they were a darn chipmunk (31 day pregnancy) instead.


  • Sperm Whale 6 of 21

    Female sperm whales carry their young for 14-16 months. Oh man, mom must feel like a small trout when that big baby finally pops out.


  • Black Rhino 7 of 21

    The irresistible baby Black Rhinoceros comes into this world after his mother has hauled him around in her belly for 15 -17 months. That's like two entire pro baseball seasons and then some. But I guess rhinos don't care about baseball, huh?


  • Javan Rhino 8 of 21

    Okay, so I'm a real sucker for rhinos. Who isn't? They are pure awesomeness and they remind me of dinosaurs. The very endangered Javan rhino stays pregnant even longer than their Black Rhino cousin. How does being knocked up for 16-19 months sound? Hey, good things take time to make.


  • Dolphin 9 of 21

    Dolphins give birth after being pregnant for 11-12 months. That's not much compared to some animals, but it's still quite a bit longer than us humans.


  • Tapir 10 of 21

    Pregnant tapir moms-to-be have to wait 13 months to meet their little tapirs. Judging by how cute this guy is though, it almost seems worth the really long slog.


  • Walrus 11 of 21

    If you are a baby walrus waiting your turn to see the light of the world, you have to wait for 15 months before you can get born. Poor pregnant Mrs Walrus. She must feel like she swallowed a baby rhino.


  • Zebra 12 of 21

    It takes 12-13 months for a baby zebra to grow inside his or her mama before they are ready to be born. I'd say mom really earns her stripes (no pun intended!) with each pregnancy then, wouldn't you?


  • Killer Whale 13 of 21

    Killer whales are pregnant with their babies for 17-18 months. That's like a year and a half. My wife would eat me alive. Killer wife.


  • Camel 14 of 21

    Camels stay pregnant for 13-14 months. And then, finally, they get rid of the bump... but not the hump.


  • Manatee 15 of 21

    Manatees are such gentle, beautiful creatures. They even seem to live in slow motion. That might be because they are so tired from BEING PREGNANT FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!! Yep, mama manatees keep their babies in their wombs for 12 months before they give birth to their not-so-little amazing creature



  • Donkey 16 of 21

    Baby donkeys are born after their mother endures a 12-14 month pregnancy. I wonder if a donkey ever just up and forgot she was even pregnant since the whole process takes so long.


  • Giraffe 17 of 21

    The average giraffe pregnancy takes 15 months. Humans can get pregnant, have a baby, and then get pregnant again in that same amount of time. Whoa.


  • Alpaca 18 of 21

    It takes about 11-13 months for an alpaca baby to be all set to pop on out into this world. Useless Trivia: I like to think that every alpaca mom gives her sons the cool gangster name, Al Paca.



  • Harp Seal 19 of 21

    Harp seals have quite a rough life if you think about it. They live in some of the harshest climates on Earth and are constantly trying to avoid being killed by a variety of predators, one of which is human beings. So, I suspect that mama harps really enjoy the 11-12 months they are pregnant with their babies, since it's the one time they can feel like the kids are safe.


  • African Elephant 20 of 21

    If you are an African Elephant mama and you're pregnant, you will be walking around with a 'little elephant' inside of you for 22 months. That's almost two whole years! I know good things come to those who wait and all, but wow.


  • Sharks 21 of 21

    I love sharks and find them fascinating, so I was surprised to learn that many of them have very long pregnancies. In fact, 2 years is not at all uncommon in the shark kingdom. However, one shark in particular takes the award for the most insane pregnancy span in all the world. The Frilled Shark, once pregnant, will remain so for about 3-AND-A-HALF YEARS! I am speechless. I am blown away. Thanks for joining me!



You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie . And on Twitter.

More Pregnancy on Babble:

Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Just a Home Birth

The First Trimester Blues: Pregnancy is Really Hard….For Men

I Was Born Here! A Dad’s Take On Home Birth


Article Posted 3 years Ago

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