How Do Hooded Seal Pups Survive in the Arctic?

Hooded seal mothers produce milk with the highest fat content of any mammal, and they have the shortest lactation period, as well. Born on ice floes in the freezing North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, seal pups are fed milk that contains at least 60 percent fat. This helps them to quickly pack on a thick layer of blubber for insulation against the harsh environment. Mother seals remain with their pups for only four days, feeding them about 16 pounds (7 kg) of milk a day, which allows the pups to quickly double in size.

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  • Human breast milk contains about 3 to 5 percent fat, although the fat content can change dramatically over the course of a single feeding. The total fat content continues to increase from three months after birth.
  • A cow’s milk is similar to a human’s, but rats, dogs, and rabbits all provide their offspring with a milk with a higher fat content.
  • Higher amounts of protein in milk help animals build muscle faster, while milk with more carbohydrates helps with brain development, according to La Leche League International.
More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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