Re:seahorse giving birth for three days

#4372
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear makala007:

It is not unusual for a gravid male to release a fraction of his brood a bit prematurely, only to shut down operations temporarily and then deliver the rest of the young normally a few days later. When that’s the case, the remainder of the brood is typically released en masse 2-4 days after the first batch of fry were expelled. So that’s one situation during which delivering the entire brood may be extended over a period of several days.

Large broods of young may also involve bouts of intense labor followed by extended rest periods before all of the young are finally delivered. Sometimes when an exceptionally large brood is involved, labor may be prolonged for two to three days as a result. As you know, the brood pouch enfolds, protects, aerates, osmoregulates, and nourishes the developing embryos as the male undergoes a true pregnancy (Vincent, 1990). The volume of the pouch normally increases dramatically as the pregnancy progresses. A male that is carrying a significant number of young becomes very rotund so that only a very thin layer of epithelium and connective tissue separates the interior of the pouch from the outside world by the time birth is imminent (Vincent, 1990).

The fully developed young emerge from their individual compartments and shake loose into the lumen of the pouch prior to birth (Vincent, 1990). They become very active toward the end of the pregnancy and can sometimes be seen wriggling about through the membrane of the swollen brood pouch at this time. This appears to be every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds, since expecting males become agitated and distressed as the big moment approaches. They experience definite labor pains when birth is imminent, evident as a series of powerful contractions, and soon begin pumping in time with these birth spasms in order to forcibly eject the fry from their pouches. Labor usually begins well after dark in the early morning hours or shortly after dawn (Vincent, 1990). The distraught male may pump and thrust vigorously for hours before finally ejecting the first of the newborns (Vincent, 1990). The fry are expelled singly or in ones and twos at first, but are soon spewing forth in bunches and bursts of a half dozen or more.

Delivering a large brood this way is hard work, and the exhausted male will pause periodically to recover from his exertions, gathering his strength until he is caught in the throes of another round of contractions. In some cases, it takes 2-3 days for the entire brood to be delivered in this manner.

Without knowing the particulars in your case, I cannot say for certain if things are progressing normally or if your male may be experiencing a difficult pregnancy with complications that could be a cause for concern. But there are certainly circumstances during which delivering a brood over a period of three days is normal and results in no harm either to the stallion or to his offspring.

Best of luck with your gravid male, makala007! Here’s hoping your male delivers a healthy brood and recovers none the worse for wear.

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


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