Do whales have nipples? (Complete Explained)

It has been a popular question for centuries: do whales have nipples? Many people are surprised to learn that not only is the answer yes but that, in fact, most marine mammals – including dolphins, porpoises, and manatees – possess them as well. Read on to discover everything about whales’ nipples and more!

Here’s the Answer: Do whales have nipples?

Yes, whales do have nipples, but they don’t have breasts. The mammary glands of all cetacean species (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) produce and secrete milk fed to the young calves through their nipples.

Unlike most mammals, whales and dolphins lack external nipples. Instead, these creatures’ mammary glands are situated within slits located on their bodies. When a calf nudges the parent, it stimulates the emission of milk from one of the parental nipples, which are then exposed for feeding; the calf positions itself so that its mouth is around the nipple to suckle.

In terms of size, the whale nipple is 5 feet long and weighs around 115 kg (250 pounds). When compared to other mammals, this is generally considered to be quite large, and whales do not have arms or hands as humans do; their nipples must be able to stretch for them to be able to nurse their young effectively.

How many nipples does a whale have?

Do Whales Have Nipples?

Generally speaking, female whales possess two nipples. To survive in their aquatic environment, whales have evolved from having external nipples to now possessing internal ones. These inverted nipples are located on the whale’s back in the slit before the anus.

Do All Whales Have Nipples?

Yes, all species of whales do have nipples; this applies to both male and female whales. Male whales, like humans and other animals, possess two nipples – just as female whales do. While there hasn’t been extensive research on the subject, it is believed that this is for the same reason that mammals are endowed with such features. 

How Do Whales Nipples Look Like?

Whales possess a unique form of mammary glands: inverted nipples that reside beneath their bodies, out of sight and typically unseen. No description or image is available on how these hidden mammary slits look when exposed. How can one capture this phenomenon when a mother’s milk-producing glands only activate when her baby is latched on, and not a drop of the liquid gold is wasted? There seems to be no way.

Do whales produce milk?

Yes, whales do produce milk to feed their young calves. As the largest animal on Earth, whales also have the biggest milk glands. That means they produce more milk than any other mammal—up to a quarter of a ton!

Whale milk is a powerhouse of nutrition, providing more nourishment than most other species – including humans! It contains higher concentrations of lipid fats which can help to give the young calves additional energy. With this powerful milk, the calf grows up incredibly fast. The amount of milk a whale produces can vary depending on the species and the age of the calf.

Do Whales Have Nipples?

How do whales breastfeed underwater?

Their nibbles are not the same in size or position compared to other creatures’ nipples, and they feed their babies differently than many others.

Just like dolphins, whales are mammals that need to take in oxygen. This is also why they often jump out of the water. However, as their nipples lie under their body, how they feed and nourish their calves can be confusing – do they breastfeed them while on top of the water like otters?

But you may wonder how baby whales consume milk without drinking water and keep it from leaking into the sea. Well, unlike fish, who lay eggs to reproduce, whales are warm-blooded mammals that give birth and nurture their babies.

This allows whales to provide nutrition for their young without being affected by pollutants in the ocean. Unlike any other mammal, these sea creatures have nipples concealed under their bodies and produce milk which they use to breastfeed and nurse their babies.

Although the nursing process of whales differs from that of other mammals, it is remarkably similar to dolphins. The baby whale swims under its mother and triggers her nipple using its tongue before she begins to squirt milk directly into their mouths. After a few drinks, they resurface for air, repeating this cycle until they are content!

On average, a baby whale consumes around 190 liters of milk every day – the same amount as a baby elephant. When it comes to nourishing their calves, whales take an entirely different approach; rather than relying on water for sustenance, mothers only allow their babies access to their nipples once they have successfully attached and stimulated them. This remarkable breastfeeding technique ensures that the newborns receive all the necessary nutrients from the mother’s milk.

How long do whales breastfeed their baby?

Whales do not stop breastfeeding until the calf can consume solid food. This typically happens around 6- 12 months after birth. However, the lactation period of some species of whales can extend for up to three years!

For more detail on the whale gestation period, see our article How long are whales pregnant in different species?


Overall, do whales have nipples? The answer is yes! Not only do whales possess nipples, but they also use them to nurse their young calves in the same way that other mammals do. While some species may have visible nipples, many do not due to their thick layers of blubber and fat. Nevertheless, whales’ nipples are an essential part of the birthing and rearing process for these majestic creatures.

Do you want to learn more about whales and other marine mammals? Visit our website for more information! We have a variety of informative videos, articles, and resources to help you gain a deeper understanding of these fantastic creatures. Be sure to check it out today!