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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John Green discusses 26 animals that have some rather weird mating habits. Yes. Including giraffes.

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Hi, I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss, and today we are going to discuss 26 strange mating habits of animals because why not. You may think that giraffe love is cute and adorable but NO. Can I reuse the "Don't try this at home" recommendation from our last animal related video? Also do not Google these things if you are easily queasy and do not Google them at work no matter what. Let's get started.


1. Unless you're usher, it's really hard for dudes to pick up a future mate by dancing at the club but shockingly, male prairie chickens, who can be found right here in my home state of Indiana, find a match through their dance skills. We actually have footage of this, I mean of the prairie chickens dancing, not Usher. Their orange or pink throats inflate as they walk back and forth occasionally pausing to bob up and down and they sing, all while sometimes fighting other males in midair just to show how awesome they are at being a mate. It sounds like a sequence in West-Side Story.

2. If you're a male Galapagos Giant Tortoise with a short neck then you are out of luck because the taller the tortoise neck, the more likely you are to win a mate. The outer shell of a male tortoise is concave, which allows him to mount the female tortoise from behind and proceed to make the most disgusting animal noise in hisory. This is particularly embarrassing because we're having this conversation in front of Raphael who has no neck at all.

3. Cats are disgusting as everyone already knows, and their mating habits are no exception. So the female crouches down with her tail in the air and the male mounts her from behind while holding her neck with his teeth. The female howls, then she is impregnated, and has the opportunity to be impregnated by yet more males while she is in heat. That explains why litters of kittens can contain all different types of kittens... meow.

4. Female giant pandas only ovulate once a year, for somewhere between 24 and 72 hours, so Giant Pandas are some of the least sexual mammals that exist. They only have sex during the female's window of ovulation. This gives the male enough time to save up his sperm which actually causes his testicles to steadily enlarge over the course of the year, and then, when the female is ready to mate, they get it on in a hollow tree. So, that isn't very efficient, which is why many zoos now use artificial insemination after mating season in order to ensure new cubs. 

5. The Darwin Frog, along with many types of fishes, is what is called a 'mouth brooder.' Mouth brooders are animals that use a technique called 'oral incubation' to breed, which means that egg incubation occurs in the animal's mouth. Gender can vary, but as far as the Darwin Frog goes, the male takes care of the incubation process for around thirty. Freaking. Eggs. That sit in his mouth and grow. Man, it's hard out there for a male Darwin Frog. He's named after Darwin, people things that he's a pervert, it's like doubly controversial.

6. So I can tell guarantee you that this anglerfish is a female--actually, it's made out of glass and clay, but if it were a real anglerfish, it would be a female. While the male anglerfish is much smaller than the female, and after tracking her down by following her scent, he bites the female, their circulatory systems merge, and he becomes a sperm-producing paarasite. By the way, "sperm-producing parasite": GREAT band name. And speaking of mating habits that don't work out so well for the males...

7. The male Brown antechinus, which is basically like a cuter version of a rat, always dies right after mating season due to a breakdown of the immune system caused by stress. This means that its life expectancy is a whopping 11 months. These rodents native to Australia have a 2 week mating season right before winter time, in which as much mating as possible occurs, and then all the dudes die. Which sucks and everything, but to be fair, TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

8. When the female porcupine is ready to mate, she helps male porcupines find her by releasing a scent throughout the late summer. This smell gets all the males really excited, and then they fight for dominance, but the male must wait until the lady is ready.  And one of the ways she gets ready is that he can go up to her and stand on two legs and pee on her, and she loves it. Actually, she only sometimes loves it. If she's unimpressed, she'll scream, but if his courting succeeds, she lifts her tail, and the male is allowed quill-free access.

9. Male ducks can get very aggressive when they learn that the female they were trying to court has chosen a different mate.  It's not pretty and not fun to describe, but what's interesting is that female ducks have developed a defense mechanism in response to mating with unwanted males. Essentially, the ovaduct--or, vagina--of a duck is not a straight shot. So sperm of ducks can be held in sacs or "dead ends" and then ejected. This sperm ejection method has a 97% success rate, which means that female ducks usually end up with their preferred male sppperrrr---children.

10. Elephants prefer to mate during wet season--I mean, during rainy season. Get your head out of the gutter. Elephant sex lasts a hot 45-ish seconds and features no humping, although there may be a grown or two. Typically they both just stand there and then they just stand there when it's over. It's best if this is successful, though, because elephants are pregnant for 22 months and only get pregnant every 4 to 9 years and usually only have 1 calf.  Incidentally, like many animals, both male and female elephants often prefer homosexual  sex and companionships the majority of the time.

11. Clownfish are all born male and only become females later. The fish travel in groups, and these groups have a strict hierarchy: the largest fish of the group is always female, and the second largest is always male. Therefore, if the female of the group dies, what WAS the second largest fish is now the largest and so he becomes female. So why doesn't Nemo's dad become his mom? PLOT HOLE.

12. Every year, when the female Red-Sided Garter Snake is finished hibernating, they celebrate with orgy. Hundreds of males find a female snake and form something called a "mating ball." You can probably tell why they call it that. And in case you were wondering, Samuel L. Jackson has had ENOUGH of these Mental-Flossing snakes making mating balls on this Mental-Flossing plane!

13. Female mussels actually lay eggs in their gills before their eggs are fertilized, and the males release their sperm into the water, and the sperm is then picked up by the females, which eventually allows the eggs to become larvae. But in order for the larvae to become mussels of their own, it needs to be hosted by a fish, so the female mussel lets her larvae free in the water, where it will be picked up by the gills or fins of an unsuspecting fish! And fish tissue grows over the larva, which lets the larva develop. It's like a butterfly and a cocoon, only disgusting. To summarize: don't worry about people peeing in the ocean, there's mussel sperm in there!

14. Speaking of disgusting things that someone convinced us to eat claiming it was an aphrodisiac, many snails use something called a "love dart" in the mating process. After a little bit of presumably slow-moving courting, which even includes kissing, the snail shoots its love dart, which often misses because, you know, snails can't see very well. The love dart is supposed to stop the female from digesting most of the sperm, because the more she digests, the less likely she is to procreate.

15. Alright, a few more really quick. Hippos incorporate feces into their mating habits. I'm not going to say anything else, just Google it.

16. Male bowerbirds build and decorate bachelor pad nests in order to attract females.

17. Did you ever see a horseshoe crab on top of another horseshoe crab or a chain or seemingly attached horseshoe crabs? Yeah, they were doing it.  Females can lay, like, 90,000 eggs in a single mating season.  Less than 10 will probably survive, though.

18. Male Hooded Seals attract mates by blowing a huge, pink, balloon-like bubble out of their nostril.  When two males have "hoods" of approximately equal size, they fight it out!

19. When a male and female Argonaut mate, they don't even need to come into contact. Which is maybe good, because the male is an eighth the size of the female. The male's detachable reproductive organ, called the hectocotylus, finds its way into a female.

20. When lions are ready to reproduce, they have a 4 day mating season,  during which they have sex between 20 and 40 times per day, often skipping meals. THAT, Simba, is how you were born. By the way, if you ever hear someone say that they're a lion in the sac, heads up: lion sex lasts for about 1 minute.

21. Prairie Voles are known for their monogamy and aspects of life such as cuddling and cohabitating and if one of the two dies, the other stays without a partner. Buuut, they are not monogamous when it comes to sex.

22. Sex is also crucial in the society of Bonobos. They love sex and use it for everything from reproducing to maintaining peace in the community.  Males have sex with females, females have sex with females, males have sex with males, and it keeps the Bonobos happy and their society harmonious.

23. Female hyenas are larger and more dominant than males. They're also difficult to tell apart from male hyenas because they have long pseudo-penises, which are used for urinating, sex, and giving birth. Really, giving birth? Meredith, can you fact-check that for me? OH GOD. Unsurprisingly, mating requires a lot of aimless thrusting until success is achieved. Also unsurprisingly, giving birth causes a lot of...tearing.

24. In order to tell if the female giraffe is fertile, the male giraffe tastes her urine. How does he get her pee? He gives her a nudge on the butt, and then pee comes out and he--he drinks it.

25. Just as I was in high school, the Emperor Penguin is defined by its serial monogamy. It maintains a mate for an entire year and then moves on to the next one for the following breeding season.

26. And finally, we've returned to the salon so that I can tell you that research suggests that female finches have what scientists have named "the Casanova gene." These birds are typically monogamous, but studies show that if a father finch did what we would call cheating, then his daughter is more likely to be a cheater, as well.

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