12 Oct Manatee Mating and Breeding Facts
While the basics regarding manatee reproduction are known, researchers admit that there is still a great deal to learn about. Females are ready to mate at approximately 5 years of age. It takes almost twice that long for males who mature at approximately 9 years of age. When it is time to mate, you will see a group of five or six males with only one or two females in the group.
A fact that many people do not realize is that the manatee can reproduce any time of the year. The additional hormones in the female manatees will be increased though and then the males will respond to it. Researchers are not quite sure what triggers the hormones in the females, but it is important to understand that not all females end up having their calves at the same time of the year.
Female manatees will mate with several of the males in the group. This means that the males compete with each other to become the first to mate with her, as is the case with many other types of aquatic mammals. This process ensure the highest possible chance that the female will successfully conceive a calf before the mating process has been finished for the season. Females only mate every other year due to the long gestation period. However, it can be up to five years between the times the female will have a calf, due to the conditions of her environment. When a manatee is stressed or food is scarce she will not want to take part in the mating process.
It takes a full 12 months after conception for a calf to be born. Usually there is only one at a time, but there have been reports of twins being born. The mothers take very good care of their babies and nurse them until they are between a year and two years old. The baby manatees are also introduced to various types of plant life to feed on when they are a few weeks old.
When a manatee calf is born, it weighs approximately 70 pounds and is about 6 feet long. The calf is first nourished from the milk that the mother produces. The nipples are located behind the flippers. The calves know how to swim immediately and they suckle as the mother moves slowly through the water to find her own food.
Young manatees are very curious and they can try to eat something that isn’t good for them. The mothers do their best to keep them safe and away from anything that can cause them harm. This includes predators, such as crocodiles and alligators. Mothers are typically very vigilant in protecting their young and themselves from any danger. Their slow-moving nature may contribute to their ability to bet evaluate their surroundings.