Humans aren’t the only ones who like a little romance. Many non-human animals need companionship too, in order to survive and be happy. Courtship is a part of that, and courtship rituals can be found among birds, mammals and sea creatures, all the way to tiny insects.
One animal that takes courtship to a whole new level is the Prairie Vole. This type of small vole is monogamous and will stay with its partner for life. You can find them spending upwards to 50 to 60 percent of their time together, and if another Prairie Vole approaches the pair, the male or female will chase away the competition. They can sense when their partner is stressed and will comfort them through hugs and kisses.
Another strong couple are of course, the Lovebirds! Lovebirds are monogamous and tend to stay with their mate for life like other birds. At just two months old the males are ready to attract a partner by fluffing up their feathers and dancing while bobbing their head. However, what makes these birds really stand out is that they snuggle next to their mate and cuddle for many hours of the day. The ancient Greeks believed that if one of the birds die, the other would die as well due to heartbreak.
Seahorses make another great couple. When male and female seahorses go through courtship they entwine their tails together, just like humans would hold hands, swim snout to snout with each other, and even change color to show their mate that they are able and ready for commitment. This courtship can last for days and when the time comes to get a bit more serious, they both perform a courtship dance that can last up to 8 hours. If that isn’t romantic enough, the male carries the babies and gives birth instead of the female. The women stays around the male until he gives birth and then continues to come visit him in the morning, flirting with him and holding his tail to encourage him to care for the eggs until it comes time for them to hatch.
One animal courtship that is not so romantic is the relationship between male and female Hangingflies. When a male Hangingfly wants to mate with a female Hangingfly, he brings her an insect for her to eat. While she is feasting, he attaches himself onto her and transfers his sperm into her sperm organs. If she is still eating after he is done, he will snatch her meal and give it to another potential mate. However, if she finishes eating before he is done, she will push him off and leave. Yikes!
Bonobos are another species that have quite the courtship with one another. These mammals engage in sexual intercourse for pleasure as well as reproduction. Bonobos also show affection to one another by participating in open mouth kissing and engaging in intercourse while facing each other. They have also been seen holding each others hand, hugging and holding each other close. And the female Bonobos are normally the ones to initiate intercourse.
The male Bowerbirds put much effort into their short but sweet courtships with the female Bowerbirds. The male will build a detailed structure simply to try and please the female. They will use leaves, dead beetles, sticks, pebbles, and will even use berry juice to help make their structure stand out. As they build their creation, the males will not hesitate to sabotage other males’ creations in order to have a greater chance at attracting a female. One their structure is finished, the male will start to sing in attempt to attract a female. If she is pleased with his talents, they will dance and mate in the nest. After they mate, the female will disappear into nature and the male will start the process again in attempt to woo another female Bowerbird.
Each courtship ritual is a beautiful reminder of the unique animals we coexist with on this planet. It is important that we make mindful decisions when it comes to how we treat our environment, as a healthy planet will keep these fascinating animals thriving for future generations to admire and learn from.
Sources: Cool Green Science, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Neatoroma, State of the Planet