Home General The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
General By Monica Gray -

Babies usually have a rep for being cute, soft, and cuddly. But that’s not always the case, especially when it has to do with babies in the wild. There are some animal babies out there who have to learn how to survive in this cruel, harsh world, right from the moment they’re born. We’ve curated a list of the most challenging animal babies you’ll ever hear about in the wild. Some of these babies are even stronger than you are, and you certainly wouldn’t want to get caught in the wild with one of these by your side.

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Clownfish Larvae

It isn’t until day 10 that clownfish larvae turn into actual fish, so they’re very vulnerable at this stage. Clownfish larvae must then find their way back to their host anemone. This is extremely dangerous since they end up facing dangers such as strong currents and predators during their vulnerable larval stage. After they hatch, they’ll travel up to 35 kilometers through the open ocean, making it the biggest journey they’ll ever take. When they hatch, they’re also picky about what they eat and only have enough food storage for 24 hours (Nature).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
The Guardian

Albatross Chick

As the world’s oldest known wild bird, the Albatross chicks have one of the longest maturation periods of any bird in the world. They take up to 280 days to fledge. But this doesn’t hinder their survival rate, though they have the most extreme upbringing ever. They often spend several months alone in their nest, while their parents forage for food at sea. During this time, they have to battle extreme weather and temperatures, by themselves National Geographic).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
AZ Animals

Platypus Puggle

Platypuses are egg-laying mammals, and their newborns, called puggles, are extreme. They have to try and survive in the wild with their limited abilities. With teeny-tiny, blind eyes, a hairless body, a flat head, and short, smooth hair, they rely on their mother’s milk for nourishment. When they’re babies, they can’t swim, even though they grow out of that as they get older. The male baby platypuses are venomous and are only one of six mammals on the planet. They have a stinger in the back of their legs that secretes their venom. The babies don’t have stomachs, thanks to their limited dietary needs (AZ Animals).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Polar Bears International

Polar Bear Cubs

Only about 50 percent of polar bear cubs live past their first year. Their survival rates vary greatly, which means only the toughest polar bear babies survive. They have to battle temperatures of minus 45 degrees Celcius. Once they’re born, they don’t leave the den for another three to four months, making it the most vulnerable time of their existence. Not only do these babies have to survive in extreme temperatures, but they’re also susceptible to starvation, falling prey to wolves, and drowning while swimming long distances (Polar Bears International).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Fennec Fox Kits

Fennec fox kits are born in the unforgiving deserts of North Africa, where they must adapt to extreme temperatures and scarcity of resources for their survival. Their huge ears help them dispel the heat and track down prey that might be lurking underneath the sand. Their feet have adapted so they can easily walk on the scorching ground. When the babies are born, the mother will stay with them and the father will hunt for food. But these babies must quickly adapt to the desert’s scorching temperatures (Animals).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Barnacle Geese

These geese have mastered the art of base jumping. As a baby, they were born to take this tremendous risk to meet their parents. Within a few days of hatching, goslings must jump off of high cliff faces, where their mother built the nest to avoid predation and plunge below. This is so they can finally meet their parents who are foraging on the grass below the nest, waiting for their arrival. Because of the extreme risk they take, only about a third of chicks survive the first couple of days. They can survive the fall because of their soft bones which cushion their crash (WWT).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Giraffe Calves

These babies dive straight into the deep end from the moment they’re born. Giraffe mothers were given one of the most challenging jobs in the animal kingdom. Giving birth to a giraffe calve is an incredibly painful experience. About an hour after the giraffe calf comes into this world, it can stand up and run around on its feet, which isn’t something most animals can do. In some populations, more than half of giraffe calves don’t survive their first year, making their existence pretty remarkable (Giraffe Conservation).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Axolotl Larvae

The WWF refers to Axolotl as the “Peter Pan of Salamanders.” They mostly retain their aquatic larval stage throughout their lives, making their larvae resemble miniature versions of the adults. They do get bigger, and reach up to one foot. In regards to this extremely unique species, “Axolotls were named after Xolotl, the Aztec god of fire and lightning, who could take on the form of a salamander. Xolotl was also associated with dogs, and “all” is the ancient Aztec word for “water”—so “axolotl” is sometimes translated as “water dog.” They don’t do as well in the wild as they do in captivity. They’re also able to regrow their body parts, including their brain, heart, and spine, and can accept body parts from other axolotl without risking rejection (World Wildlife).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Marsupial Mole Joeys

These babies are small, burrowing marsupials found in Australia. When they’re born, they’re incredibly undeveloped and are the size of a grain of rice. Even though they give live birth, the marsupials are relatively underdeveloped. They spend most of their early life inside the mother’s pouch until they’re grown enough to leave, much like the kangaroo babies (CSIRO).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Purple Hub

Snow Leopard Cubs

Because these babies are born in high mountain regions, it means they must quickly adapt to extremely cold and challenging environments that lessen their survival rate. They are also at risk from predators and have to learn to hunt and survive. They’re usually found living between 3,000 to 5,000 meters, and their ideal environment is bleak, cold, and desolate, somewhere where humans normally wouldn’t go. These babies must survive these temperatures until summertime when they’re finally grown enough to follow their mother around to hunt for food (Discover Wildlife).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Green Anaconda Hatchlings

You’ve probably heard of adult anacondas, which can be aggressive and extremely dangerous. Green anacondas are the heaviest snakes in the world, weighing around 400 pounds. This means their babies are the same way. Their babies are quite extreme and are born already measuring about 2 feet in length. Right from birth, they’re fully equipped to hunt and defend themselves (That Pet Place).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Predator Free NZ Trust

Kiwi Chicks

These chicks are native to New Zealand and hatched from large eggs. But they don’t have anything close to a relaxing life, and right from the start, they must defend themselves from predators and the elements. At birth, they have well-developed legs and beaks that make them capable of protecting, defending, and feeding themselves. Kiwis in general are extremely short-tempered and aggressive, and this personality trait develops at a young age. Once the chick reaches one kilogram, they’re able to chase and kick the intruder (Active Adventures).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Red-Eyed Tree Frog Tadpoles

These tadpoles have an extreme entrance into the world. Their mother births a batch of eggs on a leaf, which hangs over a pond. When the tadpoles are ready to hatch, they swirl around until the eggs break open. Then, they fall down the leaf and into the pond below. Straight from birth, these tadpoles have adapted to their surroundings to survive any sort of predators. They have sucker-like mouths that allow them to cling to the undersides of leaves above the water, to help them avoid predators (National Geographic).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Live Science

Naked Mole Rat

These naked mole rat babies have an extreme way of living. If one baby wants to become the queen and move up the line, she has to go up to the current queen and kill her. Sounds pretty harsh to reach this shift in leadership. They’re a pretty unique mammal, and according to author Miguel Brieño-Enríquez, “They’re the longest-lived rodent, they rarely get cancer, they don’t feel pain like other mammals, they live in underground colonies, and only the queen can have babies. But to me, the most amazing thing is that they never stop having babies.” Once the naked mole rat becomes queen, she starts having 10-15 babies at a time. And every time she gets pregnant, her disc space opens up, which means she can eventually give birth to a litter of 33 babies (Live Science).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
San Diego Zoo


Believe it or not, this animal is closely related to the elephant, even though it looks like a hedgehog. It’s covered in spines, and unlike the porcupine it loses its spine, it keeps it for its entire life. But this means that the mother goes through an extreme birth because it gives birth to a spiky baby. Once it hits the air, the spikes solidify. But the mother can have between two and ten babies per litter, which means that’s a lot of spikes to deal with (Live Science).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Africa Geographic

Spotted Hyena

During the final stages of pregnancy, right before females’ birth spotted hyenas, they were exposed to high levels of androgen, which is a male sex hormone related to aggression. This makes the pups more aggressive and causes the mother’s reproductive organs to grow. Unfortunately, the mother goes through an extremely traumatic birth and can die from tears and rips during birth (Wingham Wildlife Park).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Wild Ark

Alligator Snapping Turtle Hatchlings

Because these alligator snapping turtle hatchlings have to fight for themselves from day one, they’re natural-born predators. They’re born with a tough, spiky shell, which helps protect them from predators. They are also skilled ambush predators and rely on their camouflage to catch prey. The babies are notorious for their fiery, aggressive personalities, and ability to lunge with their long neck and painful bite (Exotic Pet Vet).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
The Maryland Zoo

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine

Not only does the mother have extreme experiences during birth, but the babies are born in a tree, which lessens their survival rate in general. Sometimes, the porcupines can fall out of the tree during birth. When this happens, the porcupine must cling onto the branch for dear life, otherwise, the fall will be fatal. And sometimes, when they do fall, they can impale themselves with their quills (Dog of the Desert).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
China Daily

Emperor Penguin Chick

Imagine being born into extremely freezing temperatures, without yet knowing anything about the world. That’s exactly what these Emperor penguin chicks have to do. They were born in the harsh environment of Antarctica during the bitter cold winter. Their parents have to keep them warm and well-fed despite extreme cold and long distances to travel for food, often leaving them alone to go and find food. And only recently, with rising global temperatures, thousands of chicks have died because of record-low sea ice levels. According to Dr. Peter Fretwell, “If they get immersed, the chicks will drown. If they get back onto the ice floes, they will freeze because they don’t have their waterproof feathers at that stage.” The ones who do survive these fragile stages are the toughest of them all (The Guardian).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Crocodile Hatchlings

From the moment these tiny crocodile hatchlings make their way into the world, they must develop some serious survival and hunting skills. Crocodile hatchlings are vulnerable to predators, and only a small percentage of them survive to adulthood, making those who do survive the toughest of them all. Only about one percent of hatchlings survive into adulthood (Animals Mom).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Wood Ducklings

Talk about a leap of faith! One day after these ducklings are born, they must leap from their nest, which is usually around 65 feet above ground. One by one, each duckling will leap. Luckily, they’re so light that the fall won’t harm them, but it doesn’t mean all of them will survive. They then make their way towards water as their mother calls to them (NWF).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Komodo Dragon Hatchlings

Right from the moment they’re born, Komodo Dragon Hatchlings face danger from the outside world. And it doesn’t only come in the form of predators, but from their kind. Komodo dragons are prone to cannibalism. Luckily, these babies are born equipped with sharp teeth and a tough disposition which helps their survival rate. They’re born brightly colored, with yellow and orange stripes to help them with camouflage. The babies also spend the majority of their time living in trees, which is something they can’t do when they’re adults since they’re too heavy (World Wildlife).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Tasmanian Devil Joeys

Born the size of a grain, these babies must crawl into their mother’s pouch to continue growing. They later face competition for limited resources and are known for their aggressive nature. When they’re younger, they can climb trees and are much more agile than their adult counterparts (Australia).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Live Science

Honey Badger Kit

Fearless and aggressive, the honey badger kits will defend themselves fiercely against predators. These babies take it to extreme levels and often take on animals much larger than themselves. They also have a secret weapon located near their anal glands, which secretes a foul-smelling liquid they release when they feel threatened or frightened. The kits will take on animals like the South African oryx, and the horned antelope, animals that are nearly ten times their size (Live Science).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Sierra Club

Harp Seal Pups

These pups tend to compete for their mother’s milk and attention. To do this, they’ll vocalize and push each other out of the way to establish dominance within the group. But the saddest part about these pups’ existence is that the harp seal mother abandons its pup after just 12 days. Because the mother does not eat during that time, it must go and search for food and leave the pup to fend and survive all by itself. They abandoned the pup on ice, and after about 8 weeks, if it survives, it’s then old enough to get into the water to swim and look for food (Mental Floss).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
SN Explores


The cuckoo mother has some sketchy, extremely harsh tactics for raising her young, who are just as tactful as she is. She tricks other mothers into raising her own young by birthing her eggs in another mother bird’s nest. This is so she can enjoy her life as a single mother bird. But the cuckoo chick hatches earlier and grows faster than all the other birds already in the nest, forcing them out of the nest to die (SN Explores).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Pangolin Crisis Fund

Pangolin Pups

Sometimes referred to as “pangopups”, baby pangolins ride on their mother’s tail as she forages for ants and termites. They do this while their scales are still soft and developing. They keep their pups hidden in underground burrows, while the scales harden enough for successful protection. Because the pups are defenseless against predators, their mother has to do a good job of keeping them hidden. While they’re on the mother’s back, the mother can roll up into a protective ball at a moment’s notice when it senses danger (Pangolin Crisis Fund).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Robert Groos Photography

Killdeer Chicks

You’ll know a killdeer sees you before you see them when you hear a high-pitched, shrilly, ear-piercing call. Killdeer chicks are precocial. They hatch on gravel nests near water bodies and must be able to walk and find food immediately to avoid predators. To protect their flightless chicks, the mother will sometimes perform a distraction tactic called “broken wing.” They’ll hobble away from their nest, and as the predator draws near, they’ll keep getting further and further away to distract them. When it gets close enough, the bird will fly away (Robert Groos Photography).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Science Photo Library

Arctic Tern Chicks

Arctic tern chicks are born in the cold temperatures of the Arctic. They then must embark on one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom, flying from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back. They’ll cover around 25,000 miles. Oftentimes, they’ll rest on the ice before getting up and flying again. These birds can live for several decades, and most of the time, they stay out to sea during their long, yearly migration (All About Birds).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature
Snow Monkey Resorts

Snow Monkey Infants

Winter in Japan is no joke. With freezing temperatures, the wild animals had to learn how to survive. Snow monkey infants, also known as Japanese macaques, have adapted to survive the harsh winter conditions of Japan. This is where they soak in hot springs to survive the cold. They spend most of their time together and are very family-oriented, especially the mothers. The females are pregnant throughout the wintery months, and use the hot springs as a way to keep warm and reduce their stress levels. The babies are born in spring, so by the time winter rolls around, they’re already old enough to adapt to the freezing months (Snow Monkey Resorts).

The Most Extreme Animal Babies In Nature

Cheetah Cubs

The mother is the key to the cheetah cub’s survival in the African savanna. Cheetah cubs face high mortality rates due to predation and competition with other large predators in the African savanna. They’re the most vulnerable during the first two months of their life. The mother must protect them from an extremely harsh environment where lions, leopards, and hyenas are their biggest enemies. If they do survive these harsh environments, they’ll emerge from their den with raised hair on their back to disguise them as aggressive honey badgers. To keep them protected from predators, the mother will continue moving them from den to den, until their eyesight improves and they’ve learned how to hunt from their mother (Cheetah).