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Which mammals have the shortest and longest gestation periods?

Which mammals have the shortest and longest gestation periods depends on their size.

The smallest mammals have the shortest gestation periods.  [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The smallest mammals have the shortest gestation periods.

Gestation is the period of time between fertilization and birth in oviparous animals. Knowing which mammal has the shortest and longest gestation period is relatively easy.

The shortest gestation period known is 12 to 13 days, shared by three marsupials: the American or Virginian opossum (Didelphis marsupialis); the rare water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus) of central and northern South America; and the eastern native cat (Dasyurus viverrinus) of Australia.

The young of each of these marsupials are born while still immature and complete their development in the ventral pouch of their mother.

While 12 to 13 days is the average, the gestation period is sometimes as short as eight days.

The longest gestation period for a mammal is that of the Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus) with an average of 609 days and a maximum of 760 days.

 

Mammal Average gestation period
  Days Months
Armadillo 60 to 120 2 to 4
Ass   about 11 1/2
Baboon   5 to 6
Bear, grizzly 210 to 265 7
Bear, polar   about 8
Bear, American black 210 to 215 7
Beaver about 105 3 1/2
Boar, wild 115 3 1/4
Bobcat 60 to 63 2
Capybara 150 5
Cat (domestic) 52 2
Cattle about 238 9 1/4
Cheetah 91 to 95 3
Chimpanzee 230 to 240 7 1/2
Dog 53 to 71 2
Dolphin   10 to 12
Dormouse 21 to 32  
Ermine about 28  
Fox, red 60 to 63 2
Gerbil 21 to 28  
Gibbon   7 to 8
Giraffe 453 to 464 15 1/4
Goat 150 5
Gopher 12 to 20  
Guinea pig 63 2
Hamster from 15 to 37  
Hippopotamus about 240 8
Horse   about 11 1/2
Kangaroo   6 to 11 (in pouch)
Koala 34 to 36 1 1/4
Leopard 90 to 105 3 1/4
Lion 100 to 119 3 1/2
Llama 348 to 368 11 1/2 to 12 1/4
Mouse about 20 to 30  
Ocelot 70 2 1/4
Opossum, American 12 to 13  
Panda, giant 125 to 150 4 1/2
Pig 101 to 129 3 1/4
Porpoise 183 6
Rabbit 30  
Raccoon 63 2
Reindeer 210 to 240 7 to 8
Rhinoceros, black   15
Sheep 135 to 160 4 1/2 to 5
Shrew 13 to 24  
Skunk, striped 62 to 66 2
Squirrel about 40 1 1/3
Tiger 103 3 1/2
Walrus   15 to 16 including 4 to 5 months of delayed implantation
Weasel 35 to 45 1 1/2
Whale 305 to 365 10 to 12
Whale, beluga   14 to 15
Whale, sperm   14 to 15
Wolf 61 to 63 2
Zebra 340 about 11 1/2

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