Big word of the Month: Gestation

Spring is the time that many species give birth. Gestation is the period of time that a developing offspring is carried inside the mother. Biologists usually reserve this term for mammals but it is used more loosely in common speech. Below I provide some examples of gestational periods for some of the animals at the museum. Keep in mind that exact times may vary by several days depending on the condition of the mother and environmental changes.

Explore the Wild

  • Black bear 210 days
  • Red wolf 60 days
  • Ringtail Lemur 136 days


  • Donkey 365 days
  • Pig 112 days
  • Rabbit 32 days
  • Cattle 285 days

Carolina Wildlife

  • Muskrat 30 days
  • Opossum 12 days

You can’t directly compare gestation in mammals and birds since birds have internal fertilization but most development occurs externally in the egg. Nevertheless, here are some incubation times for some birds you might see at the museum:

  • Turkey 28 days
  • Chicken 21 days
  • Duck 26 days
  • Barred owl 30 days

3 responses to Big word of the Month: Gestation

  1. mdhillison says:

    Random question but can you tell me what the same of the bird that is in the butterfly house is?it is black, with red eye ring, red lower beak and red legs/feet. has some white up top right under a plume (?)thanks!

  2. Larry says:

    According to your description it sounds like the wood partridge. Thanks to Butterflyhouse staff for consulting.

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