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photo: T. Singaravelou
photo: T. Singaravelou

New born puppies

Why are new born puppies unable to open their eyes for the first two weeks?

A. PICHAI

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

It is a fact that new born puppies are not able to see or also not able to hear. This is a very surprising fact that the puppies are born blind and deaf unlike in humans where babies are fully developed.

But why it is so? The answer lies in the past when the various species were developing and were looking for the most adaptive way to survive in the world.

Since mammals give birth to live babies, the choice was whether to have a longpregnancyand produce fully formed and functional offspring, or to have a short pregnancy and produce immature, partly formed offspring that were helpless and needed a lot of care.

Obviously, for a species where ability to run away from predators can determine whether they survive, being born mature is a necessity. Under this group come cow, horse, deer etc. whose off-springs are fully developed at the time of birth and are able to care on their own against the predators.

The various canine species, including cats and dogs, represent the other extreme. In the wild, canines survive by hunting.

Carrying a litter of puppies will slow the female and make it difficult to catch faster moving prey and to do her part in the coordinated hunting of the pack. That means that getting the pups out of the womb and onto the ground quickly is an advantage.

So the reason that puppies are born with their eyelids tightly shut is because the eye itself is still developing and is extremely fragile.

S.P.S. JAIN

Former Member, Engineering, Indian Railways

Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh


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