13 Reasons To Know Why Animals Mate. Let’s Deep Dive Into It

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Many people will still confuse mating with reproduction, but it is to be noted that these two concepts are different from each other.

Mating means the pairing of two sexes i.e. male and female in order to enjoy, have fun, and conduct insemination by the male inside the female’s reproductive tract. We can consider it as the process of sexual intercourse.

On the other case, reproduction simply means creating biological copies by successfully breeding after the process of mating has occurred. Reproduction can occur without mating called asexual reproduction, or with mating called sexual reproduction.

And, also it doesn’t always mean that mating will lead to breeding and reproduction. Sometimes mating can fail to reproduce offspring for not undergoing proper fertilization.

Mating can be monogamous (mating occurring between one male and one female), polygynous (mating occurring between one male and many females), or polyandrous (mating occurring between one female and many males).

Now, nature has selected various reasons why mating happens and needs to occur between animals.

Over the years of continuous evolution and adaptation, animals have adapted in such a way in order to mate, breed, reproduce, and continue their generations further while upgrading their adaptations and ecological relationships generation after generation.

So, Why Do Animals Mate? In this article, we will know the reasons. Below mentioned are the 13 reasons to know why animals mate. So, keep reading…

Lions captured mating in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. You have to be very lucky to see this. [Image: David Clode (@davidclode) / Unsplash]

Why Do Animals Mate? Here Are The 13 Reasons To Know Why Animals Mate

1. In order to reproduce and have offspring

Mating is necessary for all sexually reproducing organisms in order to reproduce and have offspring.

During mating, it is actually the pairing of either opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for the purposes of sexual reproduction to take place.

So, during mating, it is pretty much sure to cause copulation that is the union of sex organs of both the sexes just in order to introduce sperm to the female’s body.

And, after mating the fusion of gametes are likely to cause fertilization either internally or externally.

And, this will result in the formation of the zygote, and the embryo respectively which may or may not undergo metamorphosis depending on the species type to form new offspring.

So, the process of mating following a number of behaviors and sex patterns becomes really very much necessary just in order to reproduce and have offspring and continue the generation.

2. In order to show dominance over the territory and mates

Yes, many animals are also known for mating with their partners just in order to have territorial rights and show dominance over their mates.

This is very popular in higher mammals like lions, baboons, wolves, and even in birds like chickens, etc.

Males that are strong, dominant, and powerful are known for having multiple mating partners within large territorial expansions. And females are also lured to and choose those males that are of dominant nature.

Just take the example of lions. In lions, we can see that a strong and powerful lion can have multiple mating lionesses that are his with having a large territory of a few kilometers wide at least.

He guards his territory and his mates very well from any intruding lion who wants to take over the territory and his lionesses.

And, if the present dominant lion is defeated by the intruder lion, then the new male will kill the cubs that are not his and will mate with the lionesses there in order to show his dominance over the newly won territory and mates.

Also Read: How do Lions mate? Do Lions mate with their siblings? Why do Lioness mate with multiple Lions?

3. Animals mate with multiple partners when in need for parental care

Mating can also be associated with parental care in competitive environments where there is always a rush for food and survival. This can be mostly seen in the Polygynyous system of mating.

Polygyny is a type of mating system in which one male can mate with multiple female partners. This mating system is found in a few birds and insects but is most common in mammals like tigers, lions, etc.

Many females choose a single male for mating because they want the offspring to get proper parental care, protection, and great survival success.

However, the amount of parental care will vary between offspring as per the male’s contribution as he is the father of offspring at the same time. And, the contribution of the females’ parental care is more for their offspring.

Just, for example, it has been seen that male tigers are polygynous and so they may have large territorial boundaries with numerous female mates inside their respective territories.

In such cases, if the father tiger is inside his territory then he will help raise the cubs of all those females with whom he has mated recently by bringing food both for the mother and cubs and defend them from any possible threats

Thus, it is pretty much cleared that animals mate with multiple partners i.e they follow polygyny, when in need of parental care for their offspring in vulnerable and protective environments.

4. In order to find a new mating partner if their previous mating partner died

Many animals are known to form a lifetime bond with their partner and mate for life. For example, Red Foxes, Gray Foxes, Love Birds, Swans, Atlantic Puffins, etc. mate or life.

Some animals stop mating at all if their mate dies, and they do choose to stay single throughout the rest of their life.

But, there are many other animals like the gray foxes, wolves, swans, etc. that mate for life and are monogamous in nature. And that, they are also likely to find a new mating partner if their previous mating partner died. Meaning that there are very few chances for them to stay single if their mate dies.

They find a new mate in order to continue their generation, increase gene diversity, keep their territory and habitat, and also in order to follow their life cycle and perform the various ecological niches.

5. When the female is in heat, she needs to mate

Female mammals enter into their heat phase once every month. This heat phase is the monthly Estrus phase when the female is sexually most receptive to reproduction.

Various hormonal changes occur in the body of the female under the regulation of various gonadotropic hormones, which makes the female attracted towards males to fulfill her needs.

So. to attract mates both sexes follow a variety of behavioral patterns, pheromone signaling, and ways.

So, the heat phase in females indicates mating interest following various instincts that lead to mating and so breeding respectively,

And, if the female is successfully able to mate she won’t enter her heat phase again till she gives birth to her offspring.

Just, for example, Female baboons start to form red swollen bottoms in order to indicate that they are ready to mate and are in their heat phase or will be entering into their heat phase very soon. It indicates that the female is most fertile and interested to perform sexual intercourse with potential males.

6. Females mate with multiple partners in order to achieve genetic compatibilty

When females mate with multiple males, the ejaculated sperms of the many mates competes with each other just in order to fertilize the ova (egg) of a single female.

Those sperms that are genetically compatible are only accepted by the egg cell in order to perform fertilization, and the rest of the sperms that were not accepted gets wasted.

This resultantly causes the compatible combinations of gametes to give rise to viable offspring. So, yes, females mating with multiple partners enriches genetic compatibility as sperms with compatible genes get the chance to fertilize the female’s egg to form offspring.

So, due to genetic compatibility, the offspring so produced would have more suitable and better-adapted alleles that will give a wider diversity of survival success as compared to other offspring.

For example, The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), which is associated with disease resistance in vertebrates, also plays an important role in mate choices like females mating with multiple males in both birds and mammals. And so, is great in producing better immunocompetent offspring with a good immune system.

7. In order to feel the pleasure, have the orgasm, and get sexual fulfillment when they mate

So yes, animals like many primates like baboons, rhesus macaque monkeys, etc. are known to enjoy sex and have their kind of own orgasm just like we humans have.

In spite of having a loyal mate, both males and females can also be seen cheating on their present partners and having sexual intercourse with other mates without the notice of their loyal mates.

Researchers have also noticed that animals, mostly primates, feel orgasm. They show their happiness, comfort, and sexual arousal through various physiological or behavioral aspects like muscle contractions, producing various sounds, sniffing the female’s vulva, lying down, and also through biting.

So yes, other than to reproduce, they may also mate for pleasure, enjoyment, sexual fulfillment, and for having an orgasm as well.

Many researchers also believe that animals don’t always want to have babies. The reason that they are attracted to sexual pleasure and fulfillment drives them into finding a mate and perform mating, reproduction, and so breeding resultantly.

8. In order to get rid of unviable, weak, unhealthy, and sterile offspring

Yes, animals sometimes kill their own babies and this is known as infanticide. This type of behavior has been developed in response to the species’ mating style.

It has been seen that the mother may opt to kill a weak, unviable, unhealthy, and sterile offspring, and feed upon it just in order to stop wasting any time raising such a weak offspring in a very competitive environment where there is vast competition for food and survival.

She may next opt to mate and have new offspring in spite of raising such unhealthy ones that will be nowhere to survive in the very near future.

Now, it has also been reported that mothers may selectively cannibalize (killing and eating) their malformed offspring in order to have enough room and resources available for the well-formed offspring to survive. This can be well seen in rats as rats kill and eat their own babies sometimes.

Also, that many lions in order to keep their pride integrity, dominance, and offspring survival rate intact may also opt to kill any unviable, weak, unhealthy, and sterile cubs and re-mate with the lioness in order to produce the healthy cubs.

9. For sexual selection to occur jointly with natural selection for a better evolution to take place

Sexual selection states that animals, both males and females, are choosy of their partners, meaning that they consider a lot of aspects while choosing their mates.

Some of these characteristics can be if the partner is strong, compatible, defensive, dominant, attractive, and caring. They consider all of these characteristics in choosing a mate.

While natural selection can be defined as that mechanism of evolution in which better environmentally adapted organisms tend to better survive and reproduce more offspring.

So due to sexual selection mates with certain visible physical traits such as pronounced coloration, increased size, or striking adornments, get more chances for mating and inheriting its genetic traits to the offspring.

So, it has been seen that sexual selection literally acts as a mode of natural selection that causes better adaptability and so a better rate of survival of the offspring in their type of ecosystem. Also leading to the offspring for having greater success in obtaining mates.

10. In order to prevent infanticide

Infanticide can be defined as the act of killing of young offspring by a mature animal of the same species.

And, it has been seen that in order to prevent infanticide females may opt to mate with the male.

Infanticide can be observed occurring in rodents including mice and squirrels, in other mammals like lions, bears, hippos, horses, and in many other birds as well.

Just for example, when a new lion wins over the territory by defeating the previous mate, he sooner or later, starts to mate in order to show his dominance over the lionesses.

A lioness with cubs that are less than six months old won’t be ready to mate so easily. So, this new dominant lion opts to kill the cubs so that the lioness gets ready to reproduce new cubs that are his.

Under such a case, the lioness may opt to make the male busy by mating with him while hiding the cubs from his vision.

Such a kind of mating strategy is often obtained in order to protect the young ones from being killed i.e in order to prevent infanticide in many animals, mostly in a majority of the mongogamous animals.

11. For the continuation of the family, group, or colony

Animals need to mate in order to continue their group, family, or colony by reproducing offspring and increasing the colony members.

Just take the example of bees. It has been seen that in each colony there’s a queen bee that mates with multiple males during flight. And later she lays eggs in the brood pouches after mating.

If a queen bee is not able to mate anymore, new generations of queens will mate and produce their own colonies.

So, mating is necessary for many animals like wasps, ants, bees, and even higher mammals like baboons, lions, etc. just in order to continue their generation and so the continuation of the family, group, or colony.

Without having any mating members, or without continuing any mating acrtivities it is pretty much sure that the colony will not thrive anymore after the death of the existing generation.

12. Mating is very important in maintaining stability in the ecosystem and for the continuation of life on earth

Yes, it is due to mating that the existence of the species in a particular ecosystem thrives to exist.

Without mating or without having any mating partners may lead to cause extinction of the species very soon.

Every species has a unique ecological niche in their ecosystem by helping the environment while playing their unique role in the respective food chain and food web, and this altogether is necessary for the continuation of life on earth

So, mating is much very important in maintaining stability in the ecosystem as it keeps the species alive that serve a particlur ecological niche in the eosystem which can’t be matched to any other species’ ecological niche.

For example, the existence of keystone species like African Elephant, etc. are very much important in the Savannas due to their various activities as they help shape the ecosystem by acting as Ecosystem Engineers by modifying, creating, and maintaining habitats for other species (both plants and animals) in the ecosystem to survive.

And so, if African Elephants get extinct then this will eventually cause various radical changes in the ecosystem leading to the breaking of the ecological balance and cycle overall after a period of time.

So, mating and reproducing for them is really very much necessary and nature demands this from them, just in order to keep a balanced ecological environment while continuing their generation.

13. For mantaing their social well-being and happiness

Many animals like Prairie Dogs, Wild Dogs, Gray Wolves, etc. are very social creatures. They live and mate in social groups or familes with one male and one female, or even one male and many females.

It has been seen that as the right time of the year approaches they start mating with their partners and have offspring.

All of these begins as a yearly schedule and continuos with proper love, care, and affection towards their mates, and also with proper parental care by the whole group in rasing the offspring.

During the mating season mostly and also at other times of the year, both partners are known to show much love and caring for each other.

Just like in wolves, they will put limbs on each other while sleeping. They have been also seen to rub each other’s bodies and put their head right on top of the other individual’s neck and back. That’s a great way of showing love and care for each other.

This also showcases that they mate not only for having offspring but also for mantaing their social well-being and happiness as well.

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