Brood care

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Chicks of the emperor penguin ( Aptenodytes forsteri ) in the abdominal crease of a parent animal

Under parental care refers to the care of parents (usually the female ) for their offspring ( breed ) due to congenital instincts about the parental care also. This includes care and - for humans - also the upbringing of the offspring while they are growing up.


Do little brood care z. B. Insects , most fish , amphibians or reptiles : the fertilized eggs are mostly left to their own devices. A more complex form of brood care is, for example, taking care of midwife toads or incubating the eggs and feeding the young animals of the birds . A special form of brood care for fish is mouth brooding . Brood care through to feeding through regurgitation can also be observed in weaving spiders .

Mammals practice particularly intensive brood care through suckling and other forms of feeding. The hormone prolactin triggers brood care behavior in all mammal species examined so far, including humans, as well as in many other vertebrates , both in females and in males when they are involved in brood care. A distinction is made between nestlings and nest-fleders in young animals . A component of the brood care instinct of many mammals is also the feeding behavior .

The brood care of humans extends partly into adulthood ( education ). Brood care is a social interaction.

Family forms

Depending on the way in which the parents participate in brood care, a distinction is made between the following family forms:

  • Parent family , females and males take care of the brood together, with the male usually having a larger share in defending the territory . In most cases, this is the most enduring family bond in the animal kingdom. (e.g. in the cichlids of the tribe Cichlasomatini , the jackals and humans ).
  • Male-mother family , the female takes care of the brood alone while the male defends the territory. Even after the young fish have swim free, the female looks after the young on her own. (e.g. in cichlids of the genus Crenicara and Telmatochromis .) This family form is often associated with polygamy . Then one speaks of a man-mother family.
  • Mother family , the female takes care of the brood alone, the male does not take part in the brood care. (e.g. in the mouth-brooding cichlids of Lake Malawi , but also, associated with polygamy, in most mammals )
  • Father family , the male takes care of brood and preparatory activities such as nest building alone. (E.g. with the run chicken , sticklebacks , pipefish , bullheads , thread fish , with the South American butterfly cichlid and with the aerial catfish .)
  • Father-mother family , the female initially cares for the brood alone, while the male defends the territory. If the young fish swim freely, they will be looked after by both parents. (e.g. in open breeding cichlids such as the genus Pelvicachromis .)

Brood care by outsiders

Individuals other than mothers and fathers are also entrusted with caring for the offspring of animals and humans in an emergency, e.g. B. in herd animals such as cattle ("nurse cows", suckler cow husbandry ), bats , primates and eusocial animals such as state-building insects and the naked mole rat .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt : Outline of Comparative Behavioral Research. Verlag Blank, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-937501-02-9
  2. ^ Manfred Klinkhardt: brood care. In: Claus Schaefer, Torsten Schröer (Hrsg.): The large lexicon of aquaristics. 2 volumes. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8001-7497-9 , p. 173.