Wildebeest walking with a newborn calf

Active at birth

Active at birth, or precocial, describes species that are physically mobile and able from the moment of birth or hatching. Wildebeest calves, and many other grazing animals, need to be up and running from the word go, to avoid becoming dinner for nearby predators. Newborn dolphins have to be able to swim immediately. Precocial birds, like ducks and chickens, can often feed themselves as soon as mum shows them what is edible. Offspring that are helpless at birth - humans and mice, for example - are the opposite, altricial.

Watch video clips from past programmes (5 clips)

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Animals with this behaviour

Mammals

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

Cartilaginous fish

Ray-finned fishes

Lobe-finned fishes

Cephalopods

Insects

Arachnids

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.