The Strangest Animal Mating Rituals You’ll Ever Hear About
The mating rituals of some animals are amazingly peculiar. These seemingly bizarre yet astonishing rituals range from the explosion of genitals to gender alterations while others lead to death. Here is a list of 40 animals and their unusual mating rituals.
One would not believe that such colorful displays of tail feathers are in fact a desperate attempt by peacocks to win the attention and affection of the females. In enticing their potential mate, peacocks flash their tail feathers, strut back and forth, ultimately advertising their sexual and physical fitness. The rattling noises produced capture the interest of the females who will then naturally select their mate based on the size, color and feather quality. The lucky male who suits her preference earns the pleasure of perching on her back and aligning his tail over hers with the hope that his flashy impressive tails fans create the most offspring.
Each fall in the North American forests, a bizarre mating ritual occurs by none other than the porcupine. Despite her somewhat 30 000 needle-like daggers and only an 8 to 12 hour window of fertility, the female porcupines laces the air with a pungent perfume, rejecting all who do not meet her preference. When she finds a suitable mate, he stimulates her through urination. Females minimise danger by resting their quills flat against their body allowing their mates to briefly mount them. The couple will mate multiple times before she eventually moves away, leaving him to find more mates while she spends the next few months preparing for and nursing the next prickly generation.
And the queen shall reign supreme! Honey bees have at least 10,000 bees in a single hive, with only one Queen responsible for replenishing the colony. During mating season, the Queen takes flight and is met by drones, whose sole purpose is mating with her. Mid-flight the drones miraculously turn their penises inside out, forcefully thrusting their shaft forward until it ruptures, making a humanly audible popping sound. Soon after a hearty ejaculation, the drones fall to their demise. The queen continues this ritual with at least 12 to 15 more drones, all while storing approximately 6 million sperm, an adequate amount to lay eggs throughout her life cycle.
For Bonobos, no matter the situation or occasion, sex is always a plausible solution. Being one of the last large mammals, bonobos are quite adventurous where sexual interactions are concerned. Their sexual activities range from tongue kiss, mutual masturbations to outlandish rituals like “penis fencing” (two males hanging from branches while they rub their erect penises against each other) and come as a conflict resolution mechanism, a celebratory gift, friendly greeting among other reasons. Despite being more sexually active than other primates, female bonobos give birth in five to six-year intervals to single infants leaving a gap between sex and reproduction.
Having a reproductive organ the size of your body is quite a scary thought if you are not a banana slug, however, if you are then it is necessary to find a mate who is similar in size. These slugs wear their massive genitals on their heads making them hard to miss. When mating, they curl around each other and form a yellow circle inserting their penises and swapping sperm in a process lasting many hours. The slugs extract their organs from each other and part ways, but a mere issue with not being a proper fit may result in the partner chewing it off in a bizarre yet fascinating process.
As though having both male and female reproductive organs was not enough, when it comes to mating, flatworms have difficulty deciding which partner will take on which role. While the male gets a free pass and swims away after the act, it is the females that will dedicate time to raise the offsprings so clearly we understand the confusion. In overcoming this dilemma, flatworms will battle it out through a penis duel whereby they try stabbing each other with the one inseminating first winning the desirable role of the male.
Red-Sided Gater Snakes
These snakes take gang raping to higher heights with the female snakes being sought after by up to 100 males. Winning the heart of a female snake may seem like an obvious solution, but for the males, they have no time for slithering up into a queue as they go at it all at once. However, to prevent her demise, her health should be pertinent because overbearing attention from the males can lead to her death, but the lucky snake gets to do the deed while the other 99 watch on jealously. Assuming she is in good health, once completing the act, she rolls around in a desperate attempt at making her escape.
If having a long neck wasn’t dreadful enough, to determine whether a female giraffe is in heat or if she would be a good partner, male giraffes must drink a mouthful of her urine. He will rub her rear with his head to induce urination. Once the urine tastes good, he will commence courting her or simply follows her expecting her to let him in. With several males competing for her attention, they battle it out by swinging their necks at each other with the hope that she is in the mood to mate with the winner. Once she submits, she stands still for a few seconds allowing him to mount.
The male bowerbirds have their work cut out for them, literally, as the females are largely impressed by their intelligence and knack for decorating and dancing, as opposed to their athletic abilities. When wooing and winning the attention of the females, the male bowerbirds will battle it out by any means necessary to prove that he is a good provider, ultimately constructing nuptial bowers and artistically embellishing them. The females will then inspect the creations, demonstrating her approval of the most remarkable designs. The potential mate then performs his dance for her in this extraordinarily complex mating performance.
They may easily be a top contender for most repulsive species in our vast oceans. Lacking beauty, the females lure their males by releasing a pheromone and flashing a bioluminescent lure attached to their heads. The males begin mating by biting the stomach of the female and latching on. The two then take the mantra of two shall become one to heart, as the male fuses its blood vessels and skin with its mate. The male receives all essential nutrients from the female, leaving no need for its eyes and fins which degenerate. Eventually, the male becomes a lump of flesh protruding from the female and provides sperm for reproduction when she is ready to spawn.
With an average ejaculation time of 12 seconds and a very strong sex drive, the male dolphin mates multiple times in a day. Despite not being a stud, male dolphins courts females through gifts, singing, and sheer prowess. In a desperate attempt at satisfying their large sexual appetite, they attack female dolphins or try humping other animals such as sea turtles as well as inanimate objects. They also collaborate to steal females from other groups, ultimately forcing her to mate or fight each other to determine who mates with the female. After mating belly to belly, the male departs to seek out a new mate while the female remains to raise the calf solely.
New Mexico Whip Tail Lizard
Wonder Lizard? Ever wonder how Wonder Woman was born in a place free of men? Well, these reptiles may be the answer. Commonly known as leaping lesbian lizards, The New Mexico Whiptail lizards are all female. They reproduce without the need for a male. They begin when one female mounts, bites and rocks over the other. This rocking motion causes the bottom female to ovulate and release its eggs. A few weeks later, the ‘top’ female becomes the “bottom” and the alternate female ovulates and releases its own eggs. The new lizards are then ready within a year’s time to begin their very own ritual, making their sanctuary their very own “Paradise Island.”
With no Minnie to its Mickey, this small mouse-like creature quickly reaches sexual maturity just one year after birth. Before mating season, their bodies stop the production of sperm and they can only use what has been stored. These critters go on a sexual rampage which can last up to fourteen hours, then move on to another female. With testosterone fuelled energy, the stress of continuous humping and bleeding internally, their hair falls off, their immune system weakens, and they get Gangrene. These mice still frantically try to mate as much as they can until the end of the mating season where they literally drop dead.
Forget stepping in the name of love, the hippopotamus defecates in the name of love. When the male hippopotamus finds a suitable female, he defecates and urinates to attract the female. The hippopotamus then proceeds to use its short tail to fan out its droppings and to smother it over himself some more. The new couple stunningly weighing a combined 13,000 pounds on average, both lumber into the water. The surprisingly buoyant males then mount the female who hold their breath and then struggle to get free to break the surface for a breath of air.
The funniest part of it all is that all clownfish are born males, with the leading male gaining weight and turning into a female when the original female dies. The largest fish in the group is the female while the male is slightly smaller than her. In maintaining his dominance, the clownfish ensures that the best food opportunities are for him. When mating, the couples pair off and breed together with females sometimes laying a thousand eggs and the male going along to fertilize and guard them until it’s time for hatching. In a bizarre twist, if an egg is of inferior quality or damaged the male will typically eat the egg.
Don’t let the bed bugs bite? The male bedbug spends as little time as possible with his partner to maximize his time as he tries to mate as often as he can. He grabs the female, stabs into a specific place in her abdomen, inseminating her. Previously, this traumatic sexual activity would put pressure on the exoskeletons of the females, but with the evolution of the bedbugs, they are better able to minimize damage and protect themselves. In fulfilling his sexual desires, bedbugs sometimes try to mate with other males who do not possess the same adaptations as the females with the distress imposed on him being lethal.
Galapagos Giant Tortoises
When discussing late bloomers, be sure to mention the Galapagos giant tortoises. These massive tortoises have waited an astounding 40 years to attain sexual maturity, and when mating begins, it could last for hours. The males assemble, rising up on their legs and extending their necks to measure dominance with the shorter one crying and leaving the taller one to mate. The males yell noisily and bobble their heads to gain the females attention. Having found a mate, the male tortoise rams her with the front of his shell and immobilizes her by nipping her legs until she draws him in to mount and the loud roaring begins. After mating, the females journey for long distances to nest and the young emerge nearly 140 days later.
With a reputation of being low breeders in captivity, the Giant Pandas show minimal interest in sex. Upon reaching sexual maturity, they are shown porn as part of their initiation rites and to spark their sexual desires. The females deposit smelly secretions from their anal areas on trees and rocks, with three to four males assembling on one female after being drawn by her cues. Unfortunately, not only do the male giant pandas have very small penises, the females are receptive and ovulate to mating only a few days annually, making it even more difficult to mate. After mating, the males remain with the females to mate a few more times, until she stops ovulating.
Penguins take separation to a whole new level, spending their lives apart with annual visits for mating purposes. After traveling almost 70 miles, once at the mating site, the Penguins search for their mates by bugling call. The males usually remain in one place and lower their heads to their chests in an effort to call out to their female. Having found each other, the two stand breast to breast, bowing and singing to each other before mating. Penguins have no external genitals, and thus the male presses his cloaca (tube) onto hers while she lies flat on the ground allowing sperm to pass through.
It’s every mama hyenas’ dream to have offspring that misbehaves. She infuses her cubs with a hormone boost which elevates aggressiveness and increases its chances of survival, providing inspiration to the young males to mount the females as early and as often as desired. This ensures that the female hyena’s genetic information survives, as well as allowing the males to bring their A-game when performing their tricky mating dance. Achieving success when mating takes time and practice, as it requires strategic positioning for the male to crouch behind the females, inserting his penis to point up and backward to enter her clitoris. Unfortunately for the males, the females are more muscular and aggressive, ultimately wearing the pants in this relationship.
Gorillas achieve sexual maturity at the early ages of 10 to 12 years old, while males mature at 11 to13 years. With no designated mating season, they are free to mate year-round, but females are in heat during one or two days monthly. Before mating, females must leave their troop in search of a “silverback” male from another group. During mating, the silverback leader gets nearer to touch her and emits sounds. Often when groups of males assemble, they copulate on the ground with the females being forced to mate with multiple male Gorillas.
Oh, barnacles! As if being eternally glued to a submerged rock was not hard enough, mating seems far from easy for these animals, since they do not leave their shells. Fortunately for some barnacles, they physically copulate with each other, while others reproduce by picking up the males’ sperms when it is released into the water. These underwater creatures have some of the longest penises which stretch eight times as long as their bodies. The testes are located towards the back of the head and extend into the thorax, while the ovaries are in the base to facilitate the genetic transfer between remote barnacles.
Fruit flies are not just difficult to eradicate from our homes, their mating rituals are way too complex. The male fruit flies locate the females through seeing, smelling or hearing them. The females detect whether the males belong to the accurate species and sex while the males are persistent in their pursuit, eventually mating with her. Before mating, these flies go through a series of dances whereby the males make slow advances at the females, vibrating his legs on her head before the two face each other, dragging their legs from side to side. The confident males then spread their wings in an attempt to twist the edges downwards signifying his intention to mount the female.
For female white-fronted parrots, having a bad kiss is an understatement. Courting typically begins with mouth-to-mouth kissing by joining their beaks, allowing their tongues to touch. Slipping his tongue while making out is satisfactory, as the male parrot becomes aroused, prompting him to vomit into the mouth of his mate. However, to the female, this is only an appetizer which gets her in the mood for the intimacy which proceeds. The male shows affection for his lover by generously regurgitating his food. It’s not all bad news for the females as the male plays an active role in raising the offspring.
With only their social arrangements going for them, these small birds flutter near ground level. Being promiscuous, the female mates with multiple males in quick succession, typically having a second male lurking in the bushes waiting to get his turn as her mate departs. Once her mate has left, she lets the other male copulate with her through bumping of the genitals. When her lover returns, she displays herself allowing him to poke at her genitals releasing his rival’s sperms. They will have sex to ensure that it’s his eggs in her nest. She ends up with the long end of the stick, as both her mate and side-chick will assist with feeding the chicks. Lucky Dunnock!
Despite traveling for great distances, an albatross will return to the same place and partner when breeding calls, as their bonds are deeply rooted in their affectionate dancing rituals. After taking up to 10 years to reach sexual maturity, they observe and learn the mating rituals from their elders. Once trained, they begin dancing with partners by mutually and tenderly grooming each other’s feathers. The mating dance may appear to resemble jousting as they look to the ground while tapping their beaks and opening their mouths. Similar to the courtships of humans, an albatross spends numerous years finding the perfect partner by use of these dances, but when they do it lasts a lifetime.
Dating isn’t hard unless you’re a grebe. They raise the bar really high where attracting and keeping a mate are concerned. These water birds put on a seven-minute bird version of ballet through imitating one another’s movements while rising from the water and running along the surface. In unison, they trip along and flap their short wings before submerging under the water and returning with grass. This is usually done during the spring across 66 feet of water making them the largest vertebrates to walk on water. So if you can’t walk on water, you have no chance in this love dance.
Sometimes mating requires the help of your boys. The dominant male gets a team to assist with attracting females, proving that not all males are inclined to compete against each other. Having set his eye on his female of interest, the team of male birds fly around her, flap their wings to display their blue-black feathers while buzzing as she looks on in admiration. The alpha male with a commanding call, discontinues the acrobatics and the female will mate with him if she liked the performance. What’s in it for the team? They get to compete for the alpha’s place if something happens to him.
With a red throat pouch that blows up into a giant kidney shaped balloon, this bizarre mating display captivates the interests of the females. The females are attracted to the male with the shiniest and grandest balloon, so he continuously waggles his head from one side to next, shaking his wings and drumming on it with his bills seeking their attention. As the female flies overhead, he sits on his nest gyrating his puffed-up chest, and if she likes him, she will land. When they mate, he prevents her from being distracted by males with better-looking balloons, so he covers her eyes with his wings.
With cats, the possibilities are endless. Although rare, it is possible for cats to carry litters from different heat cycles, from different mating times and of different ages. Cats’ heat cycle occurs during the warmer weather when she begins to act strangely, rubbing against objects and rolling around the house. Female cats search for places marked by the urine of the male of her choice. She signals her intention to the male and they will mate, usually taking less than a minute. When in heat, she has multiple eggs which are released over several days allowing her to carry kittens with multiple fathers as she continues to mate until the cycle ends.
Though snails do not self-fertilize, they possess both sexual organs. Before mating, they release a calcified spike at each other, similarly to that of darts, which provides the storage of sperm in the snail’s uterus with their genitals being located behind their eye-stalks on their necks. They wrestle not only to get to find an excellent position for shooting these darts but to evade hitting themselves. One snail will stab the other to exchange the small spikes of sperm and being hermaphrodites they fertilize each other. After finishing the deed, the snails slowly but surely move on to regular programming.
Red Velvet Mites
As miniature as it may appear, this mite has an unusual mating habit. X marks the spot in this ritual whereby the male releases its sperms on small stalks of grass, laying down an elaborate smooth path to the garden where he has planted his “seeds.” After finding the trail, the female follows it, seeking out the perpetrator and sits on the sperm if she likes the work, becoming fertilized. Unfortunately, if another male sets eyes on the spot, he destroys it laying down his own instead.
At six years old, a hooded male seal reaches sexual maturity while in females it ranges between three and six years of age. The breeding season occurs during spring, and they remain at the site for 2 to 3 weeks while the pregnant females deliver, before moving on to their yearly migration. During mating, they inflate their hood, resembling a pink balloon and begin bouncing it around displaying their availability. The hood extends to the approximate size of the seal’s head, serving as a deterrent to other males. After sealing the deal, the hooded seal pups weigh a barking 25 kg at birth, the weight of someone’s luggage.
During courtship, males visit a specific area on the reef with the hope of attracting females. At sundown, about 3 to 5 females will gather with the visiting males’ disseminating their sperm among various females. A victorious male is joined by a female with the pair aligning themselves belly-to-belly, rising slowly above the reef. The offsprings remain plankton and have no parental guidance before sitting on the reef, thus selecting an appropriate habitat for the next 15 years. With a small number of females and a high male count, females favor bigger and stronger males when mating.
When courting the female earwigs, the process lasts about 10 minutes whereby the male presents his forceps to her by tapping and stroking on her abdomen. She must then choose whether to mate with him. She nibbles on his forceps for insight as she is not quick to make a decision. If she accepts, the male spends several hours with the female raising her abdomen and closing her forceps in a mating position while the male twists his abdomen 180 degrees, pushing the bottom upwards and completing the acrobatic performance.
In addition to their social structure, the mating experience of the fire ant is just as complex. The queen is very dominant, controlling the quantity of females and male eggs being laid. To spread her line and increase the chances of producing another queen is the wish of every queen in the colony. Thus a male drone is demanded. For worker ants, however, the males are of no use and are better off dead after mating. The Queen and her daughters strategize on overwhelming the colony with male eggs whenever a male drone is needed, then with the female workers help they kill off the brothers who are not needed.
Flamingos are arguably the most beautiful and recognizable birds to walk the planet. These birds are monogamous but only for one season. When that year has elapsed, with no strings attached, these graceful wonders take part in the ultimate dance-off, as they compete with hundreds of competitors for a single mate. They prepare for their courting by applying an oil-like substance which enhances their pink colours, similar to how a lady uses makeup. These stunningly pink marvels use one hundred and thirty-six different move combinations in their arsenal to attract a mate. The more moves used by them, the higher their success rate at finding the perfect mate.
The sea hare, known for its rabbit-ear-shaped head growths, swims through the water without a care. These growths assist with finding food and mates. Sea hares have both reproductive organs and when mating calls, come one, come all to this love line. One sea hare acts as a female while being mounted by a second who acts as the male; this is repeated down the row to the final sea hare who acts like a male, yielding millions of eggs which resemble spaghetti strands. Once completed, these creatures seek other mates, possibly in a different sexual role, giving meaning to the idea of role-playing.
By shaking his body profusely, the male entices the female back to the rock or spawning area which has been dug out, and if she disregards his behavior, she will be chased, but if she accepts, they will proceed. Once there, they swim in circles as he tempts her to lay her eggs. After her eggs have been laid she carries them in her mouth. He will shake the spots on his anal fin which resembles her eggs, tempting her to open her mouth to retrieve these fake eggs of his whereby he will fertilize the ones in her mouth in a process that lasts about an hour.
Argentine Lake Ducks
With a reproductive organ as long as yourself, one would believe that all his ducks would be in a row. Unfortunately, for this duck, there exist very limited pair-bonding with the females who are often resistant. Her resistance may result in rape, as she struggles to get away during copulation, but due to complexities in her oviduct, she may not get pregnant. The elaborate displays performed by the ducks are in an effort to court the females. The fully erected penis is enclosed with coarse spines and has a soft brush-like tip which is used to brush away previously deposited sperm. Despite their small stature, the males have the longest penis of any bird species worldwide. Lucky Duck!