Mating is a very important process of sexual reproduction. With the huge biodiversity in the animal kingdom, there’s also huge diversity in the matting processes as well.
Various species of the animals show various types of mating ways. Yes, there’s a variety from species to species in the ways they lure their partner, propose, and mate with her.
Talking about the animals from the zoological point of view here in this post, we will only consider the species of higher vertebrates (frogs, snakes, birds, mammals, etc.) in brief, to get the understanding of how the animals actually mate.
Yes, animals do know that sex makes babies. Some are there who just do it to get it rid of the seasonal sexual heat as a result of which their offsprings are produced.
Nevertheless, it has been seen that mating is not just the end of having fun. The mother takes care of herself during her pregnancy and the father tries to defend the mom and her offsprings and also safeguards them.
There’s more to know about them. So, just keep reading…
- How Do Animals Know How To Mate?
- The Female Mating Choice
- The Male Mating Choice
- Do animals feel pleasure when they mate?
- Do animals know that sex makes babies?
- How do animals find a mate?
- How do animals recognize other members of their own species?
- Why some animals try mating with the wrong species?
- How Animals Mate: There are 4 Types of Mating System in Animals
How Do Animals Know How To Mate?
How Do Animals Know How To Mate? This is really a very broad and diverse query.
There are millions of animals on earth with different ways of breeding or mating techniques.
But for example, how does a swan know how to lure her partner and mate with her.
Or as an easier example, how do dogs know that they have to get in a certain position and do certain movements in order to impregnate a female dog?
Well, there are various ways they know how to deal with their partner and how to mate. Some have learned it by looking at others, while many just know the way because of the foreplay activities.
How Do Animals Know How To Mate?
1. A male of the same species can identify their female of the same species. They do so by simply visualizing each other. Living in the same species community, they know whom they are looking for. It’s probably the overwhelming determining factor that tells an animal that another one is of the same species.
2. The sexual heat arises in every animal’s body and they know how to detect them. In the case of mammals, we know that pheromones and scents are involved. When a female mammal goes into the heat of sexual desire, she sends out very clear signals showing that she is ready to mate and can attract males from miles away.
3. Their brains are genetically programmed to detect the signals of each other. You can say this nature’s rule as per the evolutionary theories. The male will try to lure the female with various signals and approaches her showing dances, producing vocal cords, singing, etc. which they have learned genetically. These signals are triggered automatically due to the body’s genetic rules. Birds like peacock show such type of behaviors.
4. What happens when the male shows the signals to lure the female? Individuals of the other sex are programmed to recognize these signals and respond (if interested) with signals of their own so that the two sexes can pair up and get synchronized.
5. A female knows well how she needs to be satisfied in order to full-fill her sexual desires and become pregnant, so she will act in a way she needs to do. The male too knows how to full his sexual desire and performs actions the way he needs to. As a result, mating with intercourse takes place with some foreplay.
6. In the case of frogs, you will see that the female releases her eggs, and the male releases his sperm at the same time. So, how do they know when to mate and release? During the mating season, the male starts to produce sounds with a call, which increases his attractiveness to the female. He soon attracts a female and they mate. Well, in order to make sure that the sperm reach the eggs, the male and female get into a mating posture called amplexus. The male climbs onto the female’s back and clasps his forelegs around her middle. Depending on species, mating pairs can remain clasped together for hours, days, or even months.
7. Maturity for animals means that they know how to operate their sex organs appropriately. Since both animals and humans have been doing it for billions of years, it is also a biological instinct for us to know at some point. Of course, both animals and humans grow up in a certain culture too, which also contributes to sexual knowledge.
8. Human is also an animal. We do learn about sex from social interactions and visual influences. There’s always a curiosity about the opposite sex of course, which everyone does have, during their teenage days. This curiosity and the process to learn about sex and mating are just biologically embedded in our brains. It’s how we determine an image on what position we need to get for the mating stuff to work properly. That’s totally logical and why won’t, because the mammalian brain is so advance.
9. Yes, animals are biologically embedded with sexual knowledge, desire and it’s the evidence of their evolution and the presence of life. Every animal needs to be curious about sex and they need to know the knowledge in order to reproduce and form their future generations. Animals (and everything that does mate sexually) are quick to learn stuff even if nobody teaches them; especially if their subconsciousness is pushing them forward through sexual interest/tension. Just like, place a man and a woman who had never ever heard of sex before on an island, and they’ll very quickly figure the way to mate despite some awkward experimentations.
10. In the case of snakes, if you see, a male notices the pheromone scent of a female snake during the mating season. He will follow the scent until he finds her. If there is already another male in the area, the males may engage in a fight and the one who wins will eventually mate with the female. During mating, snakes are known for their foreplay where he may rub his chin all over her body to excite her, or he may vibrate his body against hers when they lie parallel. Both can also tongue flick and look at each other’s eyes to excite each other. And then, the sexual intercourse and mating session gradually occurs.
The Female Mating Choice
Females exhibit a more selective mating choice than males. They are very strict when selecting the best partner to mate.
It’s seen that many males will try to lure a female of which, she selects only one male for mating.
Females are choosier when picking a mate. They try to search for a mature, attractive, dominating, and good potential parenting male to mate.
This behavior is genetic and has been happening too often from species to species over the course of evolution.
They do these in a number of ways that vary from species to species. Just like in a majority of the animals the female secretes pheromones which attract many males, of which only one male individual gets his chance to mate with the female.
Nature only selects those that can survive, that is the survival of the fittest. And the females only want those males that can give better survivorship to the offspring, good potential parenting, or possession of resources by the male that will support the offspring during their growth and development.
One nature’s rule is the higher reproductive investment that females do by only producing one or a few eggs at a time.
Males can release many sperms at a time but, there is a higher investment by females in producing each of her gametes as compared to the males.
So, it’s very important that a female selects a better male to carry on the next generation.
Most females look at many traits as indicators of their partner’s fitness which ensures her with a better mating habit and the best survivor of the offspring.
The Male Mating Choice
Males are not so choosy as compared to that of the females. They usually have the urge to mate during their mating seasons only.
Mating seasons may vary in most of the species from time to time. During that time, they are always in search of a partner.
You will find various males getting attracted to a female. In such cases, the female only wants a single dominating male to mate. So, fight/combat occurs between the males of which only the winning male gets his hands on the female.
In order to lure a female, the male can sing, dance, or release various signals to make her partner realize his presence and attractiveness. Such conditions vary from species to species.
Some birds attract a mate by showing off their architectural skills. Constructing nests before the female arrives is a way for males to claim territory and show the suitable nesting areas they can defend. They may also decorate the nest with pebbles, moss, flowers, or even litter to make it more eye-catching. Such acts in male birds also lure the females.
The mating male is also seen to guard his area, female partner, and the offsprings, thus indicating his dominance over that area.
The importance of male mate choice is still controversial. Older theory predicts that male mate choice should be less common in animals and so often varies from species to species.
Do animals feel pleasure when they mate?
It is very sure that not only humans but there are many other animal species as well that feel the pleasure, have the orgasm, and get sexual fulfillment when they mate.
Mammals feel the pleasure, the same way when they mate as we humans do. But, this feeling isn’t so sure about the other species of the animal kingdom.
The enjoyment of sex among humans and other mammals is the result of various biochemical stimuli happening in the primitive parts of the brain.
The sexual desire and the pleasure during mating is not just the primary motivating energy in animal/human life but, a small clue about the enigmatic neuroscience of sex.
Using fMRI scanning it was seen that the Amygdala and the Hippocampus region of the temporal lobe of the brain become active during the time of sexual pleasure.
Amygdala and Hippocampus, both are a major component of the brain of humans and other vertebrates. Amygdala stimulates powerful emotions whereas the hippocampus manages our memories.
Both amygdala and hippocampus are included in those pinpointed regions of the brain that kick in when people feel sexual desire.
Excessive sexual emotions and desires to mate can also cause emotional connections between animals. That’s also maybe why animals are seen to hook up more during the mating season.
Do animals know that sex makes babies?
Yes, animals do know that sex can lead to the production of new offsprings. A few species don’t just care about it, but a lot of species do care.
It is seen in the majority of the species that they start building their nest, guard their area before or after sex. It is just to take care of the offspring or the eggs that the female will lay days or months after mating.
The male starts to guard the nest, secure the pregnant female, brings food for her, and also takes care of her. That’s a social behavior shown by many.
Why would they do so? It’s all because they do know that after sex, the female will be producing babies or lay her eggs. In preparation for such a cause, they become so social with each other.
That’s the beauty of it all. An animal preforms an instinctual behavior (sex) and then successfully reproduces. That’s really all the animal needs to do.
Extreme knowledge of sex is not required. Just one thing they need to know is that they will have babies after they have had sex. And, this is what they do know.
A possible reason for taking care of the offspring by the parents may be to dominate a competitor’s lineage and also to make sure that they dominate the area. Males often with such a view impregnate the females and ensure the survival of their own generation.
For example: In Lions, Tigers, etc. you will find such behavior where a dominating male tries to kill the babies from another father after he wins over that area. He than impregnate the females and produces new babies and takes care of them.
How do animals find a mate?
For animals, finding a mate is a real hustle. Generally in the animal world, the females choose male partners and the males compete amongst themselves to access over females.
When females choose their male partners, it is called intersexual selection. And when males fight over access to females it is called intrasexual selection.
In the case of intersexual selection, females go and search for the best males which seem tempting, suitable, healthy, and dominant to her. She looks for the perfect body structures, vocal sounds, dance positions, etc. in a male with whom she wants to mate.
In the case of intrasexual selection, males try to lure and propose females. They produce various body scents, shows various dances, sings, etc. in order to attract a female to mate. When many males get attracted to a single female, fight occurs and the winning male proves his dominancy to the female thus, winning the female for the mate.
How do animals recognize other members of their own species?
For proper mating to take place, it’s important that the animals can recognize other members of their own species.
It’s only then proper genetic matching will occur leading to the formation of offspring of the same species after mating.
It’s called intra-species recognition and in the majority of the species, such recognition is necessary for procreation.
Proper recognization amongst each other is very important to know with whom they must mate and so whom to attract. So, How do they recognize other members of their own species?
Animals have their own way of communicating much the same way as we do. They use senses of appearance (sight stimulation), calling and hearing (auditory stimulation), behavior patterns (behavioral responses), and smell (chemical stimulation) to know and detect each other.
Different species may employ different methods to know other members of their own species, but all of them are based on one or more of these above-mentioned stimulations.
Recognizing your own species is important when you’re looking for a mate because interspecies mating (mating with different species) is generally unviable or, at best, produces sterile offspring.
Why some animals try mating with the wrong species?
Yes, instances of some animals try mating with the wrong species have been reported quite many times. This is what we call sex between two different species.
Sex between two different species is also called “misdirected mating” or “reproductive interference” in biological terms.
Reproductive interference occurs when individuals of one species engage in reproductive activities with individuals of another species, and when these interactions reduce the fitness of one or both species.
Reproductive interference is very rare in nature but happens. Seals, dolphins, birds, and big cats like lions, etc. have been known to engage in reproductive interference like activities.
Why some animals try mating with the wrong species?
It’s because of Reproductive interference that makes animals try mating with the wrong species.
And, there are seven causes of reproductive interference, namely signal jamming, heterospecific rivalry, misdirected courtship, heterospecific mating attempts, erroneous female choice, heterospecific mating, and hybridization.
1. Signal jamming: It occurs due to the disruption in the transmission or retrieval of signals for mating between the same species which can happen due to environmental problems like noise pollution, water pollution, etc.
2. Heterospecific rivalry: Heterospecific rivalry occurs between males when a male of a different species is mistaken as a rival for mates. The heterospecific pursuit is costly for the male as they waste energy and time, have a higher risk of injury, and may lose opportunities to defend their territory against subsequent intruders.
3. Misdirected courtship: Misdirected courtship occurs when males display courtship towards individuals of a different species of either sex in confusion.
4. Heterospecific mating attempts: Heterospecific mating attempts occur when males attempt to mate with females of a different species where sperm transfer may or may not occur.
5. Heterospecific mating: Heterospecific mating is when two individuals from different species mate leading to the production of a hybrid offspring.
6. Erroneous female choice: It is the mistake made by females when differentiating males of the same species from males of a different species.
7. Hybridization: It refers to the mating between individuals of different species that can lead to production of a hybrid, an inviable egg, or an inviable offspring.
How Animals Mate: There are 4 Types of Mating System in Animals
It highly depends on the animal species regarding how they mate. The mating system of the animals involves the structure of an animal society in terms of their mating and sexual reproduction and (sometimes) pair bond behavior.
This will answer why males have multiple female mating partners, or females may have multiple male partners to mate with her.
Different kinds of animals may mate in totally different ways. Yes, that’s possible!
There are 4 Types of Mating System in Animals
1. Monogamy: Monogamy is the mating of a single male with only a single female. In this mating system, two animals mate with one another only. It is most common in birds and rare in other animals.
2. Polyandry: Polyandry is the association of one female with multiple males. This mating system ensures the female’s reproductive success by providing her with multiple mating options.
3. Polygyny: Polygyny is the association of one male with multiple females. This mating system is used by males to increase their reproductive fitness. This can be seen in a few birds and insects but is most common in mammals.
4. Polygynandry: Polygynandry is a mating system in which both males and females have multiple mating partners during a breeding season.