The tendencies of the animal kingdom are generally regarded as some of the most natural occurrences in the world—including their means of reproduction. What’s interesting is that an incredible number of animals enjoy mating rituals that are nothing short of incredible (and by incredible, we mean slightly alarming and in some cases, extremely disturbing), from taking up numerous partners to ending intercourse with the death of the participating partner. As humans, we are little different. We have fairly strict boundaries in regards to what our relationships are (and what they are not), and what the expectations are within those relationships.
Every relationship is totally different, as we all know. Most mating rituals are driven purely by instinct, and those within the animal kingdom are no exception. The following list includes some of the most promiscuous beasts in the natural world—some of which may make you feel slightly better about your relationship.
10. Northern Elephant Seal
While 500 children may seem like a big responsibility, it’s nothing to the male northern elephant seal. While the gigantic male seals (they are the second biggest seal in the world, just after the southern elephant seal) are notably unfriendly towards one another, the chief male seal will obtain control over a harem of up to 100 female elephant seals, copulating with as many as he can. In return, he protects the females from potential dangers, which counts for something, we suppose.
Turns out these furry creatures can reach their sexual maturity as young as three months old, and are pretty much fertile all the time (or to be accurate, for three quarters of the year). The does (females bunnies) have no menstrual cycle—in fact, their ovulation cycle is activated by the act of intercourse, which takes about 40 seconds. And after mama has a litter, she can become pregnant again as soon as the day after. With a 30-day gestation period, these poor rabbit mothers are incredible producers, and often left at the mercy of the very active male rabbit. Making for a possible 1,000 baby rabbits per female per year.
8. Hedge Sparrow
While birds are somewhat known for their monogamy, the female hedge sparrow is known for her tendency to branch out. Once she finds her mate, the hedge sparrow isn’t closed for business, but instead keeps her eyes open for potential partner upgrades, as more sexual activity is sure to result in more offspring for the bird. As for her requirements? Small, dark and handsome—all feathers perfectly unruffled, of course. Don’t be put out boys—while the female may take more than one mate, the males often copulate around 100 times a day.
7. Eastern Garter Snake
These guys form an actual sex ball when they are getting ready to do the deed. If several males track down a female at the same time, they all curl up together and mate (which looks a lot like one of those balls made up entirely of elastic bands). What’s interesting about this particular snake is that, unlike most snakes, the female will give birth to actual live baby snakes (which truly sounds terrifying). We’re not sure if that has anything to do with the sex ball, though. Either way it’s not at all as cute as a litter of baby bunnies.
One of the only mammals to have sex for pleasure (due to the presence of a neocortex), dolphins, like humans and certain primates, often engage in sexual activity not only to produce offspring, but also for pure enjoyment. Mating several times a day, the dolphins have relations with both males and females, and sometimes even engage in sexual behaviour towards other sub-species. In some rare occasions, dolphins have even exhibited promiscuous behaviour towards, erm, humans.
Male warthogs like to spread their seed quite literally, travelling from herd to herd to mate with females across a large territory. While lions protect the females in order to obtain mating rights, the male warthog does not provide protection to the females, instead wandering freely without a care in the world, leaving the females to raise the young and fend for themselves. Kind of rude, if you ask us.
4. Queen Honey Bee
Male bees or drones if you will, only exist for one reason, to mate with the queen. After mating with the Queen Bee (the Queen can mate with up to forty drones during a mating spree), the males either die, or are rejected from the nest. In a mating season, the Queen stores up to 100 million sperm—enough for a lifetime of reproduction. She even gets to determine which eggs get fertilized, providing her with full control of her hive.
3. Topi Antelope
The female Topi Antelope is an aggressive suitor—more so than her male counterpart. Only fertile for one day a year, the female spends the month chasing potential mates around, often mating with up to four males per day in order to prepare (several times with the same partner). According to the BBC, each “female [would] mate, on average, with four males, while some have reached 12 different partners. And each individual would be mated with approximately 11 times, although one pair was observed together on 36 occasions.” As a result, it isn’t unusual for the males to suffer from exhaustion, or try to escape the advances of the female.
This polygamous marsupial engages with several partners during mating season—resulting in a litter with multiple fathers. The female version mouse-like creature can go at it for about 12 hours, often leaving the males so exhausted that it can be fatal for them. The males rarely live for more than a year due to their suicidal approach to sexual reproduction—apparently the male’s sexual activity can lead to the loss of fur, internal bleeding and the failure of their immune systems, so we hope that some of the males can try to resist every now and again.
A relative of the common chimpanzee, the Bonobos are one of the most sexually active members of the animal kingdom. While sex is used for reproduction, the Bonobos also use it to resolve conflict, and of course, to greet one another. And the Bonobos do not discriminate, either—the primates often engage in the activity with fellow males, females, or even in groups (in order to include everyone, we imagine). There are no long-term couples—making this endangered species one with more liberal tendencies.