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.

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Animals with this behaviour





Cartilaginous fish

Ray-finned fishes

Lobe-finned fishes




Video collections

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