With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we've been hearing an awful lot about love, romance, and couples. While it's sweet, the truth is that when it comes to monogamy, animals rarely participate. Over 90 percent of mammals have multiple mates and even those who form socially monogamous partnerships are often observed "cheating" on their partners. Although this behavior is common, some animals have earned a special reputation for their promiscuity. Read on to find out who are the biggest swingers of the animal world.
Bonobos, relatives of the common chimpanzee, have won a reputation for promiscuity. Bonobos do not form long-term, sexual partnerships. Rather, they engage in sexual activity with single or multiple partners. They will participate in both hetero and homosexual encounters. In Bonobo society, sex is used for reproduction, but it's also a means of greeting and conflict resolution.
The antechinus, a mouse-like marsupial, is polygamous. Each antechinus female will mate with several males in a breeding season, with the result that a single antechinus litter has several fathers. The antechinus mating ritual is long and exhausting with copulation lasting up to twelve hours. In fact, following the breeding season, there is complete die-off of the physiologically exhausted males of the group.
Dolphins are known for their playful nature and happy dispositions. It's no wonder they're so cheerful; they mate several times a day. Although the reproductive act is short, dolphins also engage in a variety of sexual behaviors simply for pleasure. Dolphins have hetero and homosexual partners and will sometimes behave sexually towards other whale and dolphin sub-species, resulting in fertile hybrids like the Wolphin. Occasionally, dolphins behave sexually towards other animals, including human beings.
Queen Honey Bee
The queen bee in a honey bee hive is encouraged to be as promiscuous as possible. During a single mating flight, a queen bee can mate with up to forty drones. The more sexual partners a queen has, the more attractive she is to the worker bees that keep her hive running.
Don't let those innocent faces fool you, rabbits are notorious for their vigorous and indiscriminate breeding. Female rabbits often breed with several males during one mating season. A rabbit's gestation period is only 30 days, so they may breed several times in one year, copulating with different partners each time.
Northern Elephant Seal
Male elephant seals are extremely aggressive towards one another, fighting to become "beach masters." A beach master protects a harem of 30-100 female elephant seals and, in turn, mates with as many of the females as possible. A successful male can impregnate up to 50 females in single mating season and sire over 500 pups in a lifetime.
Eastern Garter Snake
Unlike most snakes, the female Eastern Garter Snake does not lay eggs, but rather gives birth to live young. Breeding is competitive. Sometimes, if several males find a female at the same time, the entire company forms a "breeding ball," the snake equivalent of an orgy. The snakes wrap around one another in an attempt to mate.
Male warthogs make use of a reproductive system known as "overlap promiscuity." Unlike lions or elephants seals, male warthogs don't defend or provide for a group of females in exchange for mating rights. Instead, male warthogs simply roam around to different territories, mating with a female from each population before moving on to new territories. Like an old-fashioned sailor, the male warthog has a lady in every port.
The Topi Antelope is a fascinating animal in that it displays the reverse sexual behavior of most mammals. Females are the aggressive, promiscuous pursuers, while males are stand-offish and choosy. Females are fertile for only one day each year. During the month-long mating period surrounding this day, they will copulate with as many as twelve partners, mating several times with each one. It is not uncommon for male Topis to collapse with exhaustion or fight off possible female partners.