Survival, it is the only thing that truly matters in nature. Survival is as true today as it was millions upon millions of years ago when the first single-celled organism came into being, and had to do several things in order to survive. Whether it be a whale, a human being, a chimpanzee, a dog, or even a flea, every animal and insect needs to do three main things to ensure that their species continues to live on: consuming food, avoiding predators as best as possible, and mating to reproduce and replenish their numbers. Of those three things, mating is the most important, because without it most of the species on Earth would not be able to grow in number, and would eventually go extinct.
As human beings, we mate with each other just like virtually every other living thing, and just like virtually every other living thing, we have certain habits and perform specific acts that we hope leads our chosen partner to mate with us. For humans, our mating habits, at least the usual ones, revolve around a pair of people going out on a sequence of dates in order to better know the other individual. To us, that appears to be the normal thing to do prior to becoming intimately involved with someone, but it is in fact quite a unique method when you take into account the mating habits of other species. Some animals have very simple and even intricate mating habits, but there are also animals who do some weird and even crazy things in order to reproduce. Here is a list of 15 animals with crazy mating habits.
Virtually every body of water in the world is home to some form of life, and with over 1,000 known species, the barnacle is one of these marine lifeforms. Barnacles tend to live in shallow and tidal waters, and they have lived on the planet, in one form or another, for over 500 million years. Thanks to specialized legs, they spend most of their lives affixed to the same surface, whether it be a rock, the hull of a ship, or the body of another animal like a whale; and since they do not really move, it begs the question, how do they manage to reproduce? As it turns out, barnacles are hermaphroditic in nature, meaning that they can choose which gender to be when the time to mate arises; and when both come to the decision, the designated male barnacle uses an inflatable penis, that if need be, can stretch up to eight times its body length to reach the designate female, who may be located a fair distance away.
14. Banana Slugs
At some point, we have all likely seen at least one type of snail in our lives, and a snail is usually small, slimy creature that lives inside of a shell; and a slug is basically a larger snail without a shell to call home. The banana slug is a North American subspecies of slug that lives its life entirely on land, and its name comes from the fact that these slugs usually come in a yellowish color with some brown pigmentation, just like a ripe banana. These slugs, like the barnacle, are hermaphroditic, and so when a pair comes together to mate, they decide who will be the male and female, even though both will literally still come equipped with a penis the same length of their bodies. When the actual mating process is complete, the designated female will oftentimes bite off the designated male’s penis, which more or less leads to the creation of a female slug who can then find their own mate to help the species to reproduce further.
The porcupine can actually be found on five different continents, and as a member of the world’s family of large rodents, they are one of the most well known and recognizable. The primary reason for their notoriety, is because of the coat of sharp quills that cover and protect most of their body from predators, quills that can literally dig into another animal’s flesh and cause injuries of varying degrees. Since these dangerous quills cover most of a porcupine’s body, it is hard to picture just how a pair of these animals can get together to properly reproduce without seriously injuring themselves; but surprisingly, the quills are not really an obstacle, the female herself is. A female porcupine basically mates whenever she feels like it, and it is up to the male to figure out when she is willing, and the way this happens is simple, the male urinates all over the female. If the female responds by exposing her underbelly, then it is time to mate repeatedly; if she just shakes the urine off though, it means the male needs to look elsewhere.
12. Garter Snakes
As of now there are hundreds of different snake species all over the world, and they come in many colors and sizes, with some of the most well known types being rattlesnakes, pythons and cobras. Snakes have lived on our planet for over 100 million years, and for the most part, they have not changed that much in all that time, and even though most snake species have considerably normal mating habits, some mate in unique ways. Many of us have heard of the term orgy, which relates to multiple individuals having intercourse with one another; and although we associate the term solely with humans, snakes like the garter snake, have their own orgies when mating season comes around. Garter snakes live in North and Central America, and when winter comes along, they go into hibernation, but when they wake up, it is time to reproduce, and the females release a special pheromone to attract mates. This pheromone is incredibly effective, as sometimes dozens of male garter snakes pile on top of the female to form a mating ball. While in this ball, every male has his penis out while looking for the female, and although they all try, only one snake manages to successfully mate with the female, while the others just keep slithering around them.
11. Honey Bees
We may find them to be annoying, and choose to wipe out entire hives because of the inconvenience they sometimes pose for us, but the truth of the matter is that bees are incredibly important to our planet. Honey bees in particular are very important, not just because they produce honey, but because like most other bee species, they fly around and pollinate our food supply as well as flowers that are essential for creating certain medicines. Like all bees, they live within a hive that can sometimes house hundreds and even thousands of individuals, and every hive comes with a queen, worker bees who actually do the pollinating and honey production, and drone bees who are all male whose purpose is to mate with the queen. These drones are literally bred just to breed, because their genitals literally snap off during the process, and this action causes them to die shortly after. The genitals though, remain within the queen so that she can continue to be fertilized by the now deceased drone for a long time after its death.
The continent of Africa is home to many well known and iconic animals such as lions, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos and hyenas. Within the watering holes of the African Savannah though, lives another mammal that is synonymous with the continent, and that would be the hippopotamus. From the time they are born until the day they die, hippos spend most of their lives in the water, and only venture onto land to graze for a short amount of time during the day. These mammals give off the appearance of being docile animals, but the truth is quite the opposite, as they are extremely territorial, and actually kill more people in Africa than any other animal. With that being the case, you would think that the mating habits of hippos would be physical and possibly even violent, but the truth is, the males become more disgusting than violent. During mating season, male hippos surprisingly attract females by spinning their tails while simultaneously urinating and defecating in a certain area.
9. Argentine Lake Ducks
When we see ducks, two things mainly come to mind, the first being that they make a tasty dinner, and the second being that baby ducklings are unimaginably adorable. The method with which those ducklings get here though is quite interesting, because you would not think that a duck, or any bird in general, would be so forceful during mating season. As it turns out, ducks have corkscrew shaped genitalia which spiral in opposite directions, which makes the mating process itself fairly uncomfortable; but in regards to the Argentine lake duck, that is not the only thing that is odd about their mating habits. With these ducks, the males use their 17-inch long penis to grab a female by literally lassoing them with it, and when they do, they can also use their long reproductive organ as a brush to get rid of the semen of another male who may have mated with that same female moments earlier.
8. Praying Mantises
The Earth is filled with many cool looking insects, many of which come in the form of beetles and even butterflies, but amongst the coolest is without a doubt the praying mantis. There are over 2,000 different species of manis in the world, all of which are ambush predators who prey on other insects using their appendages. In terms of mating, a male mantis will perform a courtship dance in order to gain the affections of a female, but that is the end of the normalcy associated with their mating habits. Female mantises will place the male on their backs in order to mate, and that is when they engage in the act of sexual cannibalism, as they will oftentimes decapitate the male and begin to eat him while he is still in the process of physically mating with her. Apparently this action actually causes the male mantis to thrust more and mate for a longer period of time, which helps to boost the amount of reproduction. Who would have thought that literally losing one’s head, actually leads some animals to become better lovers.
In some form or another, jellyfish, as far as we know, have lived in the Earth’s oceans for 700 million years, making them one of the oldest species on the planet. For the most part, jellyfish look as if they are simply a floating pile of jelly, which has a bunch of painful stingers attached to its body, and even though that is pretty much true, they have their own brain, as well as digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems. They would not have survived so long though, if they did not have their own form of reproduction, which happens to look far more like a horrible tasting dinner than a standard mating ritual. When it comes to mating, male jellyfish simply release sperm from their mouths and leave it there in the water while they move on; the females either swim right through the sperm with their egg pouches near their mouths, or they simply keep the pouches in their mouths and travel through the sperm with their mouths open.
6. Soapberry Bugs
There are thousands upon thousands of different insect species in the world, and in the case of true bugs (hemiptera), there are between 50,000 and 80,000 distinct subspecies, including the soapberry bug. The soapberry bug can be found throughout North and South America, and it gets its name from the fact that its primary source of food are seeds from soapberry plants. In previous entries on this list, some insects have literally lost body parts and died as a part of their respective mating habits, but fortunately for these insects, mating does not come with any limb loss or death. When a pair of soapberry bugs get together, they actually remain stuck to each other’s backsides for up to eleven days and do not let go until it is time for the female to lay eggs. In most cases, once the eggs are laid, insects go their separate ways, but in the case of these bugs, once the eggs are out, they get right back to mating again; making them a prime example of a clingy relationship that actually works.
The flatworm belongs to the same family of soft-bodied invertebrates that has existed on the planet for at least 270 million years, and they are nothing like the earthworms you find in your backyard. These creatures have their own respiratory and digestive systems, and even though most flatworms are relatively harmless, many are in fact parasitic lifeforms that are very dangerous to humans and our livestock. As mentioned earlier, there do exist hermaphroditic animals, and flatworms are another addition to that list, but unlike the other examples on this list, neither one chooses their gender prior to the mating process. When two flatworms get together to mate, they fight each other in a duel-like scenario, except the duel is fought with each flatworm using their own rather sharp penis as a sword. The duel lasts until one flatworm is stabbed, and the one which is stabbed then becomes the de facto female, due to the fact that they absorb the winner’s semen and get fertilized.
4. Bed Bugs
One of the worst things that can happen to a home is infestation, and even though an infestation of things like mice, termites and cockroaches can be disgusting and problematic, bed bugs are the one thing no one wants to deal with. Bed bugs are parasitic insects who solely feed on blood, and who can primarily be found in beds or other sleeping areas, and although their bites cannot usually be felt, they can cause allergic reactions, psychological effects, skin rashes and in some cases, they can also transmit diseases. In terms of mating habits, male bed bugs do not do anything to attract a female, they simply look for one and then proceed to stab her in the belly where the semen is then injected into her circulatory system. In most cases, the female survives this encounter thanks to a special section in its abdomen that heals the injury; a section that male bed bugs do not have, which is why many males die when they are stabbed in the belly after being mistaken for a female.
The world’s oceans are filled with some truly extraordinary looking marine life, some of which look beautiful, and some that look incredibly hideous. Amongst the ranks of the hideous group, is the anglerfish, a predator which uses a fleshy growth protruding from its head as a lure to attract its prey. These fish have been around for over 100 million years, and their appearance has not really changed that much, but what might have changed over all that time is the way that they reproduce. Certain anglerfish are known for being extreme examples of both sexual dimorphism and parasitism, meaning that males can be significantly smaller than females, and that from the time they are born, males bite into a female and latch onto to her like a parasite until they die. By the time male anglerfish reach adulthood, they lose their digestive system and die, but even though their bodies eventually detach from the female’s body, there is always a small piece that remains attached to her; and that piece is what is used to fertilize her eggs.
2. Garden Snails
Near the beginning of this list, it was explained that snails are slimy creatures who live within shells, but something which was not mentioned earlier is the fact that when it comes to mating, some snails, especially the garden snail, are actually very tantric lovers. When it comes time for a pair of snails to mate, they have to decide which one will be the male and female, and once that is done, the pair engage in biting, stroking and fondling each other for up to six hours. During this rather tantric display, something similar to hydraulic pressure builds up within the snails, and when the pressure reaches its limit, the sparks really start to fly, and by sparks, I mean mucus-covered darts that shoot out from sacs located behind the snail’s eye-stalks. These darts are filled with calcium that helps to increase the amount of semen that the female receives during mating; and once the dart hits, the mating begins, but it may take some time for the darts to actually hit their mark, considering that snails are in fact blind and therefore cannot aim properly.
Imagine if you could literally only be intimate with one person for just a single time, and that your genitals permanently disappeared once that one encounter was over. If you think about it, it is actually a very scary scenario, but it is something that does in fact take place in nature, primarily with the Argonaut. The argonaut is a shelled marine animal that might look like a swimming clam, but it is in fact a type of octopus, and half of the species will only ever be able to mate once in their lifetime. In regards to male argonauts, they possess a single special tentacle called a hectocotylus which contains their sperm, and when he finds a mate, he releases the tentacle from his body and it travels towards the female for fertilization. Unlike other males on this list who die after losing a body part as a result of mating, the male argonaut simply goes on to live out the rest of its days without ever having to worry about reproducing ever again.