For males in the animal kingdom, attracting a female isn’t always easy. Animals have developed many weird and wonderful mating rituals, but not all are romantic! Here are the top ten most unusual.
10. Bird of paradise
Famous for their dance moves, male bird of paradise put a lot of effort into attracting females. Dances are inherited from fathers and then practised and refined throughout their life ready for mating. Males push their feathers up to form a sort of skirt before performing a dance for females that watch from up above.
Bowerbirds like to show off their skills by building extravagant structures known as bowers out of twigs with floors covered with bones, shells and stones. They don’t just leave it there though, they like to decorate as well, filling their bowers with shiny objects and flower petals.
8. Praying mantis
Mating is a bit of an unfortunate activity for the male praying mantis that risks being eaten by the female! Having been lured to the female by pheromones, males may or may not get to mate before the female bites their head off; not all males are unlikely, some do get away uninjured. Males can make up around 60% of the female diet during mating season, and females that eat males appear to lay more eggs.
7. Honey bees
Impressively, for honey bees, mating occurs in mid-flight. But, it is not something males get to do more than once as they die shortly after as their reproductive organ and abdominal tissue are ripped from their body and left in the female!
For giraffes, it is important to find out whether a female is ready to mate before attempting to do so. The way a male does this, however, is not appealing – he drinks her urine. Once he knows she is ready, he may need to fight off competition, which he does by swinging his long neck at the other suitor.
5. Red Garter snakes
Competition reaches new heights for red garter snakes. When it’s time to mate, up to 100 males can go after a single female at the same time; the female ends up in the middle of a large mating ball.
4. Garden snails
Snails are hermaphrodites, so have both male and female organs. But rather than competing with each other to decide who gets to be the male, both snails are impregnated. This isn’t the only strange thing about the way snails mate though; sperm is injected by stabbing the other snail with a sharp reproductive organ, nicknamed a love dart. Being repeatedly stabbed does take its toll though, and over time could result in death!
Attracting females is hard work if you are male pufferfish. Rather than just sitting and waiting for females, males spend days creating symmetrical patterns in the sand that can reach up to 2 m in diameter. If happy with the male’s creation, the female will lay her eggs in the centre of the circle.
2. Greater sage grouse
During the mating season, male sage grouse come together into large groups of 70+ birds called leks and compete for the attention of waiting females. Displays are elaborate and involve fanning their tail feathers and inflating air sacs in their chest. The area will be filled with the sounds of vocalisations as well, as they produce pops and whistles in an attempt to win over the females.
1. Angler fish
When you live deep in the ocean, finding a mate is not an easy task. So, females make the most of it when they do and fuse with the males. The two actually share a circulatory system; the male receives nutrients from the female, and the female receives sperm from the male. Males may have to share though, as one female can fuse with many males!