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Length of pregnancy in mammals

Pregnancy in mammals

Pregnancy in mammals is a diverse and intricate process that varies significantly across species. The gestation period, which is the time a mammal carries its young before birth, ranges widely. For instance, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) has one of the longest gestation periods at about 22 months, while small rodents like mice (Mus musculus) have much shorter pregnancies, often just around 19 to 21 days.

During pregnancy, mammals provide a nurturing environment for the developing embryo through the placenta, an organ that facilitates the exchange of nutrients and waste between the mother and the fetus. This system is crucial for the development of the young and varies in complexity among different species.

Larger mammals generally have longer gestation periods. For example, the giraffe (Giraffa sp.) is pregnant for approximately 15 months, while the domestic cat (Felis catus) has a gestation period of about two months. Marine mammals also exhibit unique gestational adaptations; the orca (Orcinus orca) carries its young for about 17 months, allowing the calf to be born in favorable conditions for survival.


Reproductive strategies in mammals are highly adapted to their environments. Species such as the kangaroo exhibit embryonic diapause, where the development of the embryo can be temporarily halted during adverse conditions. This adaptive strategy ensures the offspring is born when conditions are more suitable for its survival.

This table highlights the diversity in gestation periods among various mammals, illustrating the remarkable adaptations that have evolved in response to different environmental pressures and life histories. For more detailed information on specific species, articles on DinoAnimals offer extensive insights into the fascinating world of mammalian reproduction.

Gestation length in mammals TOP 10

MammalAverage gestation length (days)
Elephant (African bush) (Loxodonta africana)655
Elephant (Asian)617
Whale (sperm) (Physeter catodon)535
Orca (Orcinus orca)532
Rhinoceros (Indian) (Rhinoceros unicornis)478
Rhinoceros (white) (Ceratotherium simum)467
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)456
Rhinoceros (black) (Diceros bicornis)450
Giraffe (Giraffa sp.)430
Whale (Beluga) (Delphinapterus leucas)408
Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus)390
Zebra (Burchell’s) (Equus quagga burchelli)390
Tapir (Malayan) (Acrocodia indica)379
Zebra (Grant’s) (Equus quagga boehmi)375
Donkey (Equus asinus)365
Dolphin (Bottlenose) (Tursiops truncatus)364
Sea lion (California) (Zalophus californianus)350
Alpaca (Lama pacos)345
Horse (Equus caballus)336
Llama (Lama glama)330
Dolphin (Spinner) (Stenella longirostris)318
Seal (Weddel) (Leptonychotes wedelli)310
American bison (Bison bison)285
Deer (Père David’s) (Elaphurus davidianus)284
Cattle (Bos taurus)283
Zebu (Bos taurus)280
Antelope (Sable) (Hippotragus niger)270
Human (Homo sapiens)270
Porpoise (harbour) (Phocoena phocoena)270
Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)257
Eland (Common) (Taurotragus oryx)255
Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis)255
Yak (Bos grunniens)255
Seal (Northern fur) (Callorhinus ursinus)254
Deer (Sambar) (Rusa unicolor)246
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)246
Elk (wapiti) (Cervus canadensis)245
Moose (Alces alces)245
Bear (polar) (Ursus maritimus)241
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)240
Deer (red deer) (Cervus elaphus)238
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)237
Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)236
Orangutan (Bornean) (Pongo pygmaeus)234
Bonobo (Pan paniscus)228
Deer (Common fallow deer) (Dama dama)228
Bear (black) (Ursus americanus)220
Gibbon (lar) (Hylobates lar)220
Chital (Axis axis)218
Bear (grizzly) (Ursus arctos)215
Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)215
Grivet (Cercopithecus aethiops)210
Deer (mule deer) (Odocoileus hemionus)206
Colobus (King) (Colobus polykomos)202
Deer (white-tailed) (Odocoileus virginianus)201
Monkey (Talapoin) (Cercopithecus talapoin)196
Monkey (Vervet) (Cercopithecus pygerythrus)195
Monkey (patas) (Erythrocebus patas)192
Antelope (Impala) (Aepyceros melampus)191
Monkey (Red-tailed) (Cercopithecus ascanius)190
Baboon (Papio sp.)185
Douc (red-shanked) (Pygathrix nemaeus)185
Langur (northern plain) (Semnopithecus entellus or Presbytis entellus)183
Macaque (Stump-tailed) (Macaca arctoides)182
Capuchin monkey (Gracile) (Cebus sp.)180
Macaque (Toque) (Macaca sinica)180
Sheep (Bighorn) (Ovis canadensis)180
Goat (mountain goat) (Oreamnos americanus)176
Mangabey (Grey-cheeked) (Cercocebus albigena)174
Gelada (Theropithecus gelada)170
Macaque (Southern pig-tailed) (Macaca nemestrina)170
Monkey (squirrel) (Saimiri sp.)167
Macaque (Japanese) (Macaca fuscata)166
Monkey (proboscis) (Nasalis larvatus)166
Antelope (Blackbuck) (Antilope cervicapra)165
Gazelle (Thomson’s) (Gazella thomsonii)165
Macaque (Crab-eating) (Macaca fascicularis)165
Macaque (Celebes crested) (Macaca nigra)164
Macaque (Rhesus) (Macaca mulatta)164
Macaque (Formosan rock) (Macaca cyclopis)163
Tamarin (Saguinus sp.)162
Macaque (Bonnet) (Macaca radiata)161
Guenon (Cercopithecus sp.)160
Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia)158
Marmoset (Goeldi’s) (Callimico goeldii)151
Goat (domestic) (Capra hircus)150
Monkey (Dusky leaf) (Trachypithecus obscurus or Presbytis obscurus)150
Sheep (Ovis aries)150
Monkey (blue) (Cercopithecus mitis)140
Howler monkey (mantled howler) (Alquatta paliatta)139
Monkey (spider) (Ateles sp.)139
Woolly monkey (Brown) (Lagothrix lagothrica)139
Coypu (Myocastor coypus)132
Gazelle (Dorcas) (Gazella dorcas)132
Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)131
Lemur (Lemur sp.)128
Galago (Galago sp.)124
Beaver (Castor sp.)122
Armadillo (Nine-banded) (Dasypus novemcinctus)120
Wild boar (Sus scrofa)120
Duiker (Bay) (Cephalophus dorsalis)120
Pig (domestic) (Sus domesticus)113
Porcupine (North American) (Erethizon dorsatum)113
Porcupine (Crested) (Hystrix cristata)112
Chinchilla (Long-tailed) (Chinchilla laniger)110
Tiger (Panthera tigris)109
Lion (Panthera leo)108
Acouchi (Green) (Myoprocta pratti)98
Leopard (Panthera pardus)93
Cheetah (Acinoyx jubatus)92
Hyena (Striped) (Hyaena hyaena)90
Puma (Puma concolor)90
Slow loris (Sunda loris) (Nycticebus coucang)90
Kinkajou (Potos flavus)77
Otter (Lutra sp.)73
African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)71
Fox (Bat-eared) (Otocyon megalotis)65
Guinea pig (Cavia sp.)65
Skunk (Striped) (Mephitis mephitis)65
Cat (domestic)64
Wolf (Canis lupus)64
Fox (island) (Urocyon littoralis)63
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)63
Armadillo (Six-banded) (Euphractus sexcinctus)62
Coyote (Canis latrans)62
Jackal (golden) (Canis aureus)62
Dog (domestic) (Canis familiaris)61
Badger (American) (Taxidea taxus)60
Lynx (Canadian) (Lynx canadensis)60
European mink (Mustela lutreola)57
Fox (red) (Vulpes vulpes)52
Elephant shrew (Bushveld) (Elephantulus intufi)51
Elephant shrew (eastern rock elephant shrew) (Elephantulus myurus)46
Treeshrew (common) (Tupaia glis)46
Ferret (domestic) (Mustela furo)41
Hare (European) (Lepus europaeus)41
Flying squirrel (Southern) (Glaucomys volans)40
Squirrel (red) (Sciurus vulgaris)38
Squirrel (gray) (Sciurus carolinensis)35
Hedgehog (European) (Erinaceus europaeus)34
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)34
Rabbit (domestic)31
Rabbit (European) (Oryctolagus cuniculus)31
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)29
Rat (Hispid cotton) (Sigmodon hispidus)27
Quokka (Setonix brachyurus)26
Gerbil (Mongolian) (Meriones unguiculatus)24
Mouse (Cotton) (Peromyscus gossypinus)23
Mouse (White-footed) (Peromyscus leucopus)23
Rat (Rattus sp.)22
Gerbil (Greater Egyptian) (Gebrillus pyramidum)21
Hamster (Chinese) (Cricetulus griseus)21
Mouse (meadow)21
Mouse (domestic) (Mus musculus)19
Hamster (Golden) (Mesocricetus auratus)16
Opossum (Virginia) (Didelphis virginiana)12
Stripe-faced dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura)11


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