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11 Kinda Interesting, Kinda Horrific Ways In Which Animals Have Sex

Male birds don't have penises and snails like it rough.

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1. Male birds don't have penises.

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Most birds have cloacas instead of external genitals, which is essentially the three-in-one deal of orifices – poo, wee, and sex-related activities are all consolidated into this one handy opening. The cloacas of male birds swell and exude sperm when they're feeling frisky, and the male birds rub those swollen, spermy cloacas against the equally swollen cloacas of female birds, where the sperm will travel up inside to the ovaries and fertilise her eggs. Most birds are also not very experimental and just stick to the one position – the male on top of the female, rubbing his cloaca against her, and no fancy mid-flight sexual aerobics involved.

2. Honeybees do it in one big orgy, with one female queen bee and thousands of male drones, who then die immediately after.

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The sole purpose of male bees is to have sex with the queen bee, and the other worker bees in a hive are all sterile females. When she is ready to mate, the queen will fly out into an area and swarms of drones will congregate around her. One at a time, mid-air, the drones will have their one moment of glory with her, then fall to the ground and die, which presumably resolves any issues of calling the next day. Though there can be thousands of drones in a congregation area, a queen will mate with an average of only 12-14 drones, and then store their sperm for the rest of her lifetime and use it to fertilise her eggs when needed, and she'll never have to have sex again. Also, the fertilised eggs will only ever produce female bees; drones are born of unfertilised eggs, which means bee fathers are always fatherless themselves.

3. Snails shoot "love darts" at each other.

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Snails are hermaphrodites (i.e. with male and female sexual organs), therefore their sex is very complicated. They have "genital pores", which is basically a hole that gives access to their male and female sexual organs. Sexy time for snails starts with them circling each other, perhaps gently caressing each other delicately with a tentacle. Then they shoot sharp, pointy calcium structures at each other because they're into that sort of thing. These "love darts" remain attached to the shooter, so they serve to ~unite~ the slimy lovers. Unsurprisingly, shooting sharp pointy things into each other can be dangerous, and can pierce the internal organs of their lover. If neither are dead at this point, the snails will transfer sperm into each other – as they're hermaphrodites the sperm transferal can be mutual or just from one snail, depending on the species. It's also important to note that not all snails are hermaphrodites, though most are.

4. Garter snakes like to do it in a "mating ball".

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Female garter snakes emerge from hibernation later than male snakes. Once the female awakens, male snakes swarm around her and create "mating balls" in which dozens of male snakes attempt to woo just one female. Some male snakes will excrete a female pheromone to trick other males and distract them from mating with the real female snake. Females often try to slither away from these piles as they can be incredibly violent; particularly aggressive male snakes may release de-oxygenated air, essentially suffocating her and creating a stress response from the female snake in which she opens her cloaca and gives the male snake an opportunity to mate.


5. Dolphins swing both ways.

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Male bottlenose dolphins live in all-male groups in which homosexual behaviour is common. Often, they form deep bonds with other males and go through exclusively homosexual periods (if not lives). Dolphins, like humans, have sex for pleasure, not just to reproduce. Also like humans, dolphins can be really bloody awful to each other. Groups of male dolphins will single out a female and "herd" her – if she tries to swim away, they'll belly-flip her, slap her with their fins, or scratch her with their teeth into submission.

6. Banana slugs are hermaphrodites with penises around the same length as their bodies, which they chew off after copulation.

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The mating ritual of a banana slug begins with it infusing the slime it leaves behind with a pheromone that lets other slugs know it's ready to get frisky, and other interested slug parties will eat the slime. Mating slugs will mutually insert their penises into each other, and then chew them off after copulation.

7. Male bedbugs straight-up impale their female counterparts and deposit their sperm into their lifeless bodies.

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The penis of a bedbug is basically like a sword, and they use it to stab female bedbugs in the abdomen and then release sperm into the victim/sexual partner's circulatory system. Which means no bedbug has ever known their mother. :(

8. The female praying mantis bites the head of her mate after, and sometimes during, copulation.

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First, the male mantis has to perform a dance for the female, and only if she thinks he's worthy of her will she let him have sex with her – if not, she'll probably chew his head off. He's not really out of the woods even if he passes this stage, though, because in about 5–31% of cases, the female will chew off the head of the male after the deed is done, and sometimes even during. The rest do manage to fly away afterwards, so ~not all praying mantis females~ are that bad!!!


9. The antechinus, a cute little mouse-like marsupial, has sex for several weeks straight until it literally keels over and dies of exhaustion.

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These little critters only live long enough to mate just once; this is the case for the male and often the female of the species. Males focus all their energy on reproducing for two to three weeks, at which point their vital organs will fail and they will die of exhaustion. Females can live for up to three years, but usually die after weaning their first litter (which can often have several baby daddies, because they store up all their eggs for this frenzy and can be fertilised by several males at once). This may sound like a sad and hard life to live, but tbh at least they all know exactly what they want from life and go out in a pretty spectacular way.

10. Instead of a penis, male octopuses have one "modified arm" called a hectocotylus that releases sperm.

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Male octopuses have a special arm that transfers "sperm packets" into the female, which the female can store inside her until she is ready to lay her eggs. The male's actual reproductive organs are internal; the special arm just means he can have sex from afar as female octopuses are also prone to cannibalism like the praying mantis. The distance the arm provides gives the male the opportunity to swim away from his dangerous partner once the deed is done. Octopuses really like to keep everyone at ~arm's length~ (sorry).

11. The argonaut (a species of octopus), not only has a special ~arm-penis~, but it's detachable, too.

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Female argonauts (like the one in the picture above), are about 20 times larger than their tiny male partners and have protective shells. Male argonauts only grow to about half an inch in length, which means they have to be creative when it comes to mating with their colossal partners. To reproduce, a male will launch his tiny little "modified arm", loaded with sperm packets, at a female, then the arm will crawl into the shell of the female where it can be stored until she's ready for her young to be fertilised, which seems like a really practical approach to child-rearing and life-planning tbh.