Misconceptions About Lactation
There are many common misconceptions about lactation including it's purpose being for food and that it only occurs for a short time, but the most common misconception is that both males and females lactate.
The source of this misconception is unknown, but in fact, generally, only female animals lactate. This is one of the advantages females have, and one of the reasons for the museum. One of the goals for the museum is to educate the public about all aspects of lactation.
Fun Facts About Lactation
• Nearly every animal in the known world lactates. There are only 3 ½ species that do not. Two of them are aquatic (the salmon and, ironically, the sea horse) and the other is the chicken.
• Lactation can occur over the span of days, weeks, months or years.
• There have been 43 recorded cases of interspecies lactation between rodents and reptiles.
• For many years and, strangely, in many cultures, the belief has been held that circulation in an animal’s feet is altered during the course of lactation. This is simply untrue in every regard.
• There is a mathematical relationship between the cycles of the moon and lactation impact. This has been proven. What that formula* is, however, continues to be researched because the quantities are not yet clearly established statistically, only that there is, in fact, significance. The question of this equation requires more research because of the need for cross species examination of this relevant question.
*To be clear, the term “formula” here pertains to mathematics and should never be applied in this context as meaning formula as in milk substitute.
• Did you know that the Allegheny Monkfish is one of the species where the males lactate?
• Were you aware that jelly fish lactate? Several facts that make this obvious: they are called jelly because they excrete jelly like milk from their tentacles (glands) to nurse their young. Also they look like a giant breast with the tentacles looking like, and being, milk tissues ripped from a chest.
• In certain animals, such as the praying mantis and the three-toed sloth, lactation is a ritual at death. Before these species are about to die, they begin to lactate in order to alert their families and colony members of their impending death, thus allowing the others time to prepare for the loss.
• We have frequently been asked if it is possible for cows to be lactose intolerant. The answer to this is resoundingly affirmative.