You know the Valentine’s Day drill: buy some chocolate and flowers, make reservations at a nice restaurant and exchange “I love you’s” over dessert. But how does the rest of the world—specifically the animals of the world—celebrate Valentine’s Day? Well, it’s complicated.
In the animal kingdom, love and sex are just as complex and mysterious as they are for humans. Some animals enter into long-term relationships (and short-term flings!), others engage in silly mating rituals, and a few have evolved to wield some incredibly bizarre sexual organs. Check out these 21 animal facts about love, sex, relationships, and reproduction:
1. Albatrosses are known for being flirtatious. Check out their hilarious mating dance:
2. When houseflies mate, the buzzing sound from their wings is so loud that they risk catching the attention of predators—especially bats.
3. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any land animal—up to 23 months. Oh, and babies weigh about 230 pounds at birth. Imagine carrying that around all day.
4. Only 5 percent of animals are considered monogamous, though not in the way we talk about the word. Scientists determine monogamy in animals by looking at sexual fidelity, social attachment and parental behavior.
5. 97 percent of bird species have lost the ability to grow a penis. Instead, they mate by rubbing together small openings called cloacae. The entire ritual is called a cloacal kiss.
6. Seahorses court each other for days before mating, often engaging in dancing rituals during this time. Once the female has deposited her eggs in the male’s pouch, she checks on the male daily.
7. The leopard slug’s penis can extend to the entire length of its body.
8. Armadillos, bears and badgers can actually put pregnancy on hold. Their bodies have evolved to hold the embryo in a dormant state until conditions are prime for birth.
9. French Angelfish are known for being lifelong mates. The fish often live, travel and hunt in pairs.
10. An African desert rodent called the Shaw’s jird (Meriones shawi) can mate 224 times in just two hours.