Oh, Valentine’s Day, the holiday we love to hate. Most people have a good story about a Valentine’s Day gone wrong, I know I do. Still, even if you think your romantic life is a disaster, let me tell you, there are animals out there who’ve had worse!
Here is a list of terrifying animal mating habits that will make you appreciate even the worst of dates.
Let’s begin with one of my favourites – the octopus. These animals have unique reproductive organs that some may find disturbing. Males have a mating arm called a “hectocotylus” that carries sperm and erectile tissue, which creates a stiffness, allowing for easier penetration of the female. The male will insert his hectocotylus into the female’s siphons, located in her mantle. So, where is this mantle? It’s located in the octopus’s head. That’s right, her head. While octopi don’t have a traditional head like ours, this still makes me uncomfortable.
Some species of octopus will take this a step further! Male Argonaut octopi have a detachable penis, which swims and chases after females. Imagine being chased by a hectocotylus that wants to mate with your head.
No thank you.
It’s not just a name that combines two highly feared animals.
These creatures perform “animal cannibalism”, which many other animals seem to practice as well. However, this one is particularly scary for those with an existing fear of spiders. The female wasp spider will wrap up males so she can feast on him while mating. While the thought of being eaten alive by a spider is unpleasant, we applaud the females for their resourcefulness.
This one isn’t terrifying in a mating sense, but in a maternal sense. With a gestation period of up to 2 years, elephants have the longest pregnancies of any land animal. The long wait gives the fetus enough time to develop their large brains and bodies (they are the largest land animal in the world). Not only is this an insane amount of time to be pregnant, but their young weigh about 265 pounds at birth. As someone who has been pregnant, both of these facts greatly affect me.
Two words: Nightmares forever.
This has to be one of the most terrifying mating rituals. Not because it’s overly violent, but because it’s confirming our long-standing fear of being trapped in a dark abyss. About 8% of anglerfish perform “sexual parasitism”, where the male parasite takes advantage of the female host for survival and reproduction. Deep-sea anglerfish are so scarce and far between that only 1% of males find a mate. Unfortunately for the other 99%, they will starve and die as virgins. However, this may not be a bad thing! Those who do find a mate will bite her (usually around the belly) causing their tissues to permanently mold together. This fuses their bodies for the rest of their lives, with the male becoming entirely dependent on the female and using her for nutrients and blood. The only things he’ll do on his own are breathe and produce sperm. So male anglerfish are faced with a tough decision - find a mate and give up your freedom or starve as a virgin. Suddenly the octopus seems like a good option...