Friday, 14 February 2014

Animal Valentines

It's Valentines day (just, at time of writing), and so what better post can there be than one about fun facts on "love"... eh, um well OK, sex in the animal world.

As with all animals, British wild animals often have amazing adaptations, fascinating sexual strategies or even just beautiful courtship behaviour. Take the short-eared owl for example. One of the most beautiful owls in the world, and they really know how to put on a performance. In the wild the males often put on a display for the females during the mating season. They will fly acrobatically over the female on the nest, often clapping their wings beneath them and free falling to try and impress.

The roe deer is one of many British animals we have at the Centre which has delayed implantation. Once mated, their body delays the implantation of the fertilised egg for months, keeping it safe before the active pregnancy starts at a better time of the year.

During the mating season, toads show "Amplexus". The male grasps hold of the female, often for up to several days, while she lays her spawn. Sometimes several males can get in on the act and you see a group of them clasping on to each other and one female somewhere in the bundle.

Rats are formidable breeders, with a single female capable of giving birth to over 200 pups in during her short life!

As with many reptiles, our grass snakes and adders have two penises! This is called the hemipenes. Often they show a preference to the right or left when mating.

As with many of the mustelds, polecats having a very aggressive mating behaviour where the male physically grabs hold of the female behind the back of the neck... often dragging her around while mating.

Foxes, as with dogs, have a copulatory tie where at the end of mating the dog's penis is locked inside the vixen for a few minutes. The thought behind this it that at prevents any other males getting in on the act.

Male wildcats have a barbed penis that is painful to the female during mating, it is this pain which stimulates the female to ovulate.

And finally... how do hedgehogs mate?... very carefully!

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