Top 10 Dads of the Animal Kingdom

Every animal wants the best for its offspring. However, different animals’ methods are widely varied and sometimes questionable, while others are far more relatable. When it comes to unquestionably great parental care, these are the surprisingly fantastic dads you’d want to have for your own.

1. Seahorses/Sea Dragons

Seahorses and dragons have got to be the poster boy for the best dads in the world. I mean, how do any dads give birth to their young? Although only the male seahorses get pregnant and deliver their babies, the rest carry their eggs around, caring for and protecting them with nary mothers’ help.

2. Sticklebacks

A surprising little fish with bony spikes protruding out of its skin, these little guys build nests using their bodily secretions. Once persuading a female to lay her eggs inside, he chases her away and keeps those eggs oxygen-rich and parasite free until hatching. A nest built of bodily secretions? Eeewww!

3. Hardhead Catfish

How about incubating inside your father’s mouth? That’s what these catfish do. The dad carries the eggs around in his mouth for two whole months, keeping them safe inside him until they hatch. He doesn’t even eat the entire time.

4. Giant Water Bugs

In an unusual display of parental behavior for an insect, these dads stick around after mating and carry the eggs around on their backs. He’ll even dry them off, so they don’t get moldy.

5. (Many, Many) Frogs

A surprisingly large number of devoted frog dads are out there exhibiting a wide array of parental care methods. There are pouch-brooding frogs like the Darwin’s Frog, Marsupial Frog, and Giant African Bullfrog who swallow their eggs and carry them around in their vocal sacs or stomach until they hatch. Many species, like the Mimic Poison Frog, guard their eggs and tadpoles until they’re grown, chasing predators away and ensuring they’re fed.

6. Emu/Rhea

Birds might be flighty, but these giants are grounded permanently. Not only do these devoted dads guard their eggs, but they also continue to care for and even teach their young after they hatch with no help from their mother. The dads will even chase her away.

7. Jacanas

Another overly protective father, these birds spend their lives walking on water. Well, on lily pads. This can make it hard to raise young when they get too heavy for the leaves they nest on. When the eggs or young start to sink, he will carry them to a new, stronger lily pad nest.

8. Emperor Penguins

After the female lays the single egg, the father takes it and tucks it into a pouch-like flap on the underside of his belly, resting on top of his feet. He carries it around like this through the coldest months of the Antarctic year, far inland, while the mothers return to the ocean to find food. It’s not surprising that this dad would make a list.

9. Greater Hornbill

In an extreme display of devotion by both parents, the female Greater Hornbill will wall herself and the eggs up into the nest, leaving only a small hole just big enough for the male to pass food through, which he does. Faithfully gathering food and feeding his mate and their chicks while guarding the nest until the female finally deems the chicks ready for the world.

10. Wolves/Wild Dogs

Domestic dogs might not seem to care one way or the other, but most wild canine fathers make for some pretty good providers. Not only does he bring food for the pups and his mate while they are very young, but he also takes the time to play with them and teach them everything they need to know.

Amazing fathers abound in the animal kingdom. Human fathers, in general, aren’t bad either.

What do you think; Any surprising ones here?



Harness, J. (2010, June 17). 12 Impressively active animal fathers. – Retrieved from

Top 10 Animal Dads. – Retrieved from

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