These Marsupials Mate Frantically Until They Die

These Marsupials Mate Frantically Until They Die

The antechinus mating season lasts for only two to three weeks. During this time, males frantically mate with females for up to 14 hours per session, producing large amounts of testosterone and stress hormones. They eventually succumb to hemorrhages and infections such as gangrene, and every mating season results in the mass die-off of all the antechinus males. The term for this kind of fatal reproduction is semelparity, and insect-eating marsupials are the only mammals that engage in it.

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Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Before mating, antechinus males store sperm and build energy by suppressing their immune systems. (1:05)

  • 2

    An antechinus male will mate for up to 14 hours at a time, ultimately dying of hemorrhage or infection. (1:24)

  • 3

    Habitat loss and the inefficient mating habits of the antechinus are greatly reducing the marsupial's numbers. (2:44)

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