10 Wild and Wacky Animal Mating Rituals

Noreen February 22, 2013 1
10 Wild and Wacky Animal Mating Rituals

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1. Flatworms: Like most aquatic invertebrates, flatworms are hermaphrodites, which means they have reproductive organs of both genders- male and female. So they determine who’s going to be which gender, with a good old fashioned fight.  When it comes to their dagger-like penises (and some even have two) flatworms use it for more than just reproduction. They hunt with it and also fight each other in an act that scientists call  “penis fencing” while mating. The flatworms literally duke it out with their junk trying to stab each other until one succeeds and ejaculates its sperm  through the skin of the other flatworm. The ‘loser’ flatworm is then resigned to giving birth and taking on the female role.

2. Banana Slugs: This species of slug (the second largest in the world) that distinctly looks like a bright yellow banana, is infamous for being well endowed. Some banana slugs have penises almost as long as their entire body length and to add to that, it comes out of its head. So an 8-inch banana slug may have an 8 inch penis too (their Latin name ‘dolichyphallus’ actually even translates to ‘giant penis’).

When it comes to mating, the hermaphrodite (they have reproductive organs of both the sexes) slugs, don’t quite slug it out like the flatworms to determine which one takes on the burden of motherhood, but rather they both insert their penises into each other at the same time. However, it’s important that the slug find a mate of its own or comparable size, because if the penis doesn’t quite fit the anatomy of its mate, it gets stuck and the slug is unable to pull out after copulation (which can last for hours). In such cases, the other slug starts chomping on the stuck slug’s member in a process called ‘apophallation‘. What’s even stranger, is that it’s not uncommon to sometimes see both parties of the mating ritual chewing on each other’s penises at the same time, leaving them both penis-less after. Some researchers believe that the slugs practice apophallation, not because they get stuck, but rather as a way to stop the other from re-mating and to remain in a female only capacity.  Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure, these slugs have no reservations to chewing penises. In fact, a researcher once even witnessed a slug that was unable to retract its own penis after mating, chew its own penis right off.

 3. Giraffes: Male giraffes take a mouthful of the female’s urine to determine if she’d be a good mate. This is known as the “Flehmen sequence”, where the male giraffe will approach the female and then rub against her backside until she pees.  When/if she does, he’ll taste it to tell whether she’s in heat or not.  If she is, he will then proceed to stalk her, with the female sometimes continually walking or running away from him. During this time, he will attempt to keep other males away from the female as he pursues her, which is often the point of the female’s rejection, trying to see if she can get a better male to become interested in her and fight off the current male.

When fighting over a female, the giraffes will establish dominance via high or low intensity “necking”.  The low intensity version of necking involves pressing their necks against one another until one gets tired and gives up. Somewhat bizarrely, at least from a Darwinian perspective, after a necking battle, the males will often caress one another with their necks (which is sometimes misinterpreted as fighting) and then have sex with each other, including reaching climax.  In fact, it’s estimated that 75% to 94% of the time male giraffes have sex, it is with another male giraffe.

If the female is particularly interested in a certain male, she may even pursue him, rubbing her neck against him to try to get him to rub her rump so she can pee in his mouth.  In these cases, she will rarely play hard to get and usually will let him mount fairly quickly if her urine is to his liking. Once the female stands still long enough to allow the male to mount, coitus is extremely brief, lasting only a few seconds at most, once again proving it’s not the size of the neck, but how you use it.

4. Honey Bees: The drone (male) honey bee, who’s only mission in life is to mate with the queen, takes his job pretty darn seriously. So much so, that in the process of mating he gives up his penis and quite dramatically, his life as well.

During a bees mating ritual, a virgin queen bee will fly out on her one and only mating flight in search for drones to collect sperm that she will use throughout her life. She knows exactly where to find the drones and there’s usually hundreds if not thousands of them waiting for her. The drones swarm around the queen competing with a chance to nail her, until one ballsy drone makes his move in a mid-air sexual encounter with the queen.  During the process, the drone will mount the queen inserting his endophallus (penis) into her reproductive tract. The drone then ejaculates with such force that the tip of his endophallus explodes causing it to snap off completely and stay logged inside the queen, in an attempt to prevent other drones from mating with the queen. The penis-less drone then subsequently falls to the ground awaiting death. But, it doesn’t end there for the queen, she goes on to take more mates soon after. Other drones, then proceed to first remove the previous bee’s endophallus that’s plugging the queen’s genitals, only to replace it with his own, after inseminating her. A queen bee’s maiden mating flight often leaves a trail of at least a dozen or more drones dying in her wake. (Also see: 10 Amazzzzing Bee Facts -Infographic)

5. Porcupines:  Porcupines mate in a very bizarre way. They first begin their ludicrous lovemaking with some nose rubbing. If the female accepts the nose rubbing and, after the initial nose rubbing test, the female is still keen on the male, the male will then stand on its hind legs and the female allows him to urinate all over her body.  This isn’t done in a normal bladder expelling fashion, though. In this case, the urine is ejaculated at high pressure, rather than relying on internal bladder pressure.

Should this golden shower not be up to the female’s standards (she doesn’t like the pheromones), she will shake off the urine and find herself another mate. Should the rain from the main vein be acceptable, she will expose her non-quilled underbelly and allow the male to copulate for 2-5 minutes. If all is successful, approximately 112-210 days later (depending on the species) a little porcupine baby is born. (Read more in – How Porcupines Mate)
6. Argentine Lake Ducks:  Most male birds do not have penises. They typically copulate by briefly touching genital openings with a female, called a “cloacal kiss”. However, most ducks do have penises andChief among these ducks, in terms of phallic prowess, is the Argentine Lake Duck (Oxyura vittata), who not only has a penis, but has a penis as long as the duck himself! For a small duck that generally weighs a little more than a pound (640 grams) and measures around 16 inches (41 centimeters) long from head to tail, Argentine lake duck can have a penis up to 17 inches long, giving them the largest penises of any known bird. Their penis itself is covered with coarse spines, while the tip is soft and brush-like. The researchers think the duck may use the brush-like tip as a sort of cleansing instrument before ejaculation to remove sperm in the female’s oviduct that was deposited by another suitor, thus increasing the mating ducks chances of paternity.

The unusual part of their mating ritual is that, researchers at the University of Alaska theorize that the duck uses its penile advantage to lasso escaping females, in an attempt to mate with them.  In their own words: “Our best guess is that the birds use [the long penis] as a kind of lasso… The males have to chase the females, and even during copulation the females are trying to escape.” (Read more in- There is a Type of Duck That Sometimes Lassos its Potential Mates with its Penis)

7. Hippopotami: If you think hippo’s are adorable despite their reputation of being ferocious, you may not think so after learning about their mating habits. Because of stiff competition to pick-up a female hippo, male hippopotami have devised a disgusting but apparently effective way to  attract their women’s attention. They flinging shit at them. The male hippo positions himself in the view of a potential female mate and proceeds to defecate and urinate simultaneously. While doing so he spins his tail like a ‘hippo-copter’ propeller, flinging his special mix far and wide to mark his territory. After the spray of aromatherapy has caught the eye of the female (and sometimes they get sprayed themselves), the hippos get down to business splashing around in the water.

8. White-Fronted Parrots: White-fronted Parrots, also known as “White-fronted Amazons” or “Spectacled Amazon Parrots”, begin their mating season around February and it lasts through June or July. (Although, this varies based on region. In some regions, their breeding season doesn’t even start until November.) After selecting a suitable partner, the two parrots will begin “kissing” one another, locking their beaks and playing with each other’s tongues, making these birds one of the few animals to engage in kissing. As the kissing session drags on, the male will eventually vomit into the female’s mouth.

While female giraffes urinate in the male’s mouth before mating in order for the male to determine if the female is an appropriate mating partner, the male parrot vomiting in the female’s mouth isn’t thought to serve any such purpose.  Rather, it is thought that the male is simply giving the female a gift, by regurgitating food into her mouth.

9. New Mexico Whiptail Lizards: New Mexico Whiptail lizards are all females which makes their mating ritual  and reproduction interesting. To mate, they will generally perform a type of pseudocopulation where two females will act out having sex as if one was a male.

While not strictly required to reproduce, this simulated sex has been shown to increase the fertility of the particular lizards acting out copulation, producing more eggs than those who don’t.  Also of interest is that the lizard acting out the female role on bottom will produce bigger eggs than the one acting out the male role.  Who gets to be on top or bottom is alternated from mating season to mating season, with those who acted out the male part one season, switching to act out the female part the next, and vice-verse.

10. Anglerfish: These mysterious deep sea creatures have one of the strangest survival/mating rituals known in science, for both sexes.  The males in some species of anglerfish are born with a great sense of smell, but a stunted or underdeveloped digestive system which slowly shuts down as it matures. Their only mission in life is to find a female (a hard task given their small numbers in the vast deep oceans) quickly before they die. When the little male anglerfish successfully sniffs out a female, he bites her releasing an enzyme that fuses them together permanently and then he dwindles into nothing but a small parasitic  lump of sperm attached to her. When the female is ready to release her eggs the ‘lump’ provides the sperm she needs to fertilize it. A single female can have more than just one parasitic male attached to her, in fact, some have been found with upto 6 males attached to them.

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