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15 Animals With Crazy Sex Lives

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Birds do it, bees do it—and sometimes it gets kinky.

1. Hippopotamuses

Randy male hippos pull out all the stops to compete for the few eligible females in the pod: Bulls spin their tails as they urinate and defecate, spraying the vicinity with waste.

2. Barnacles

Long-distance relationships are hard. And when you're a barnacle permanently affixed to the bottom of a ship or rock, almost every relationship is a long-distance relationship. The good news: Hermaphroditic barnacles can still have sexual relations with their faraway—or not so faraway—loves with an inflatable penis that stretches up to eight times their body length, making it the longest in the animal kingdom relative to body size. 

3. Bedbugs

Another reason to hate bedbugs: They have no patience for romance! Instead of using a little foreplay in bed (or on a couch or movie theater seat or an entire Brooklyn apartment building), a male bedbug simply stabs the female in the stomach and releases his sperm into her circulatory system. Females can survive the act, thanks to a spermalege (a specialized region of the abdomen) that heals the wound. Male bedbugs that are accidentally impaled sometimes die.

4. Praying Mantises

Love can make you lose your head. Sex with a female praying mantis often will—especially in a lab and definitely if she's hungry. After some courtship dancing, a female will sweep a male off his feet and onto her back for fertilization. Once he finds his rhythm, she sometimes bites his head off. Some scientists believe it makes the male thrust harder. Others say it makes mating last longer, increasing reproductive sex. But we definitely know that it isn't good for him.

5. Anglerfish

Talk about a stage five clinger. Male anglerfish lose their digestive systems when they reach adulthood, so after hatching, they immediately bite and attach to females like a parasite. Their bodies waste away, but that doesn't mean romance dies. The lump left on a female's body contains a male appendage to fertilize the female's eggs 'til (her) death do they part. 

6. Flatworms

En guarde! Hermaphroditic flatworms can play the male or female role when mating, but they prefer the former. Instead of taking turns or playing rock-scissors-paper, flatworms whip out their sharp, dagger-like penises for a violent fencing match. The loser gets pregnant—the first stabbed flatworm absorbs the other's sperm. 

7. Ducks

When ducks screw, they literally screw. Males and females have corkscrew-shaped genitalia that fit together like lock and the completely wrong key—the genitalia spiral in different directions. The Argentine lake duck's junk is as long as its body, measuring in at about 17 inches long. The mating scene for these birds is notoriously competitive—pair-bonding is rare, and females play very hard to get. So well-endowed drakes use their penises as lassos to grab females and as brushes to clean other drakes' sperm out of oviducts. 

8. Porcupines

Females porcupines are only open to mating a few hours a year. To figure out if a female's in the mood, a male stands on his hind legs and urinates all over her. If she shakes off the urine in disgust, he's not getting any action. But if she exposes her underbelly, it is so on. And on and on. Porcupines mate many times until they're both exhausted. 

9. Banana Slugs

Size matters to the bright yellow banana slug. Not only do these hermaphrodites have penises the same length as their bodies—six to eight inches—they could lose their family jewels altogether if they’re not careful. For reasons that are still slightly murky, banana slugs have been known to bite the penis off of the slug they just mated with ... and probably stop returning its texts.

10. Honey Bees

There are worker bees and then there are the drones, males specially selected to service the queen bee. To make their fertilization efforts count, their genitals have evolved to snap off inside the queen to provide sperm for years to come. The drones die soon after, never to see the future generation.

11. Soapberry Bugs

Louis J Bradley, Wikimedia Commons

Of course, an animal doesn't always sacrifice its naughty bits for an evolutionary advantage. The soapberry bug gets clingy instead. During mating, males and females are physically stuck together—rear end to rear end—for up to 11 days. Some of these bugs won't separate until it's time for the female to lay eggs. And once she's done? More mating.

12. Garter Snakes

Post-hibernation, female red-sided garter snakes secrete a pheromone that brings all the boyssss to the yard. Hundreds of male snakes convene to form a large mating ball. Fortunately, their two hemipenes—penises on either side of the body—make penetration easier during the slithering orgy.  

13. Jellyfish

Like many a Tinder flirtation, male and female jellyfish never meet. But that doesn't keep them from making babies. Males release sperm through their mouths and leave it in the water. Females either keep their eggs in pouches near their mouths and swim through the sperm, or keep eggs in their mouths while sperm swims into their stomachs. When the eggs hatch, the swarm of larvae, known as planula, of many species attach themselves to a hard surface and buds on its own. 

14. Garden Snails

Garden snails could teach Sting a thing or two about tantric sex. The hermaphroditic gastropods stroke, bite, and fondle each other for up to six hours before the hydraulic pressure builds and they shoot love darts at their mates. And no, that's not a euphemism. The mucus-covered darts are full of calcium and shot pre-sex to increase the amount of sperm that ends up in the female. Too bad snails can't see what they're doing—their genitals and dart sacs are right behind their eye-stalks. Like Cupid's arrows, love darts often miss their target. 

15. Argonauts

Bernd Hofmann 

Some men will give you their hearts, but the argonaut, or paper nautilus, actually gives away its penis. Sperm is stored in a special tentacle called the hectocotylus. When a male argonaut finds a mate, it simply releases the tentacle and sends it swimming over to the lovely lady. It all works out, because male argonauts only mate once in a lifetime and don't need their genitals for later. Save yourself for someone special, guys!

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Slow Motion Is the Only Way to Appreciate a Chameleon’s Lightning-Fast Tongue
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From the unusual way they walk, to their ability to change color, the evolutionary adaptations of chameleons are pretty bizarre, and some of them remain mysterious even to scientists. Their super-powered tongues, for instance, can dart out so quickly that the movement can barely be seen with the naked eye. But modern high-speed cameras have enabled researchers at the University of South Dakota to observe this appendage at work like never before. The video below, shared over at The Kid Should See This, includes some of that groundbreaking footage, and it's pretty amazing to watch.

Shooting at 3000 frames per second, the camera was able to capture every split-second aspect of the chameleon's tongue strike. Slowed down, the video allows you to see how every component of the process works in harmony: First, muscles in the lizard’s tongue contract like the string of a bow. Then, when that tension is released, the bony base of the tongue shoots forward, pushing the sticky, elastic part toward the chameleon’s prey.

According to Christopher Anderson, one of the scientists who conducted the high-speed camera research, larger chameleons can catapult their tongues forward at distances of one to two times their body length. For smaller chameleons, this distance can reach up to two and a half times their body length. “Small chameleons need to be able to eat more food for their body size than large chameleons,” he tells bioGraphic in the video, “and so by being able to project their tongues proportionately further than these large species, they basically are opening up additional feeding opportunities to themselves that they wouldn’t have if they had a shorter tongue.”

To see one of nature’s greatest hunting tools in action, check out the full video below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop
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Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

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