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Monogamous relationships among humans are very common, but monogamy in the animal kingdom is incredibly rare. Let’s take a look at five species that bond with their mate for life and observe some epic, wholesome love stories! Which type of couple do you resonate with the most?
Image: Joe Parkin / Unsplash
Shingleback Lizards | The Faithful Couple
If we had to choose any animal to go to for relationship advice, it would be the shingleback lizard! These adorable lizards are native to Australia, and mostly live in solitude. When they find a mate, however, they form long-term monogamous bonds that can last around 10-15 years. One documented relationship lasted 27 years — how amazing is that?
Shingleback lizard couples don't spend every waking minute together. They have their own space, and tend to mate with each other during the annual breeding season. For this reason, they’ve earned themselves the nickname “the faithful lizard”.
It’s assumed that shingleback lizards return to their existing partner to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Basically, these lizards reunite to streamline the reproductive process and skip the “getting to know you” phase!
Image: Juergen57BS / Pixabay
Eurasian Beavers | The Practical Couple
Europe’s largest (and fluffiest!) rodents are well-known for their dam-constructing abilities, but they’re devoted partners, too. Beavers have webbed hind feet, powerful, flat tails, and talent for reengineering their landscape. To create a suitable habitat, beavers fell and gnaw at trees with their strong jaws and assemble large structures (dams) to create large ponds.
What’s interesting is the way beavers mate for life, and why they do it! For Eurasian beavers, mating for life is a practical, mutually-beneficial arrangement. Beavers typically mate when they’re around three years old, and they stay together for life.
Both parents raise their offspring equally, which remain with mum and dad for two years. Beaver couples also split household “chores”, like maintaining their dam, finding food, and guarding their territory.
Image: Nick Fewings / Unsplash
California Mice | The Jealous Couple
What if we told you that mice have similar relationships to humans? California mice tend to form life-long pairings — but, as with many relationships — things aren’t always smooth-sailing. California mice tend to be a little bit paranoid when their partner spends time with another potential mate!
This theory was tested out by Ph.D. zoology student Josh Pultorak. Pultorak’s research involved temporarily separating mice couples and placing them with new, potential partners. He found that mice that committed acts of infidelity got “shouted” at by their partners upon returning, whereas the ones who remained loyal returned to normal communication.
California mice are deeply attached to their partners, though. Females, take 10 days longer to mate with someone new after their partner dies.
Image: Yannick Menard / Unsplash
Gray Wolves | The Power Couple
What do gray wolves have in common with couples like Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? They form power couples!
In a gray wolf pack, only the male alpha and female alpha are allowed to breed. Their position as pack leaders means that they produce a new litter each year, which are often taken care of by other pack members. We often hear the term “lone wolf”, but in reality, it’s extremely rare for a wolf to live independently.
Wolves travel in packs with a strict social hierarchy, which is maintained by the alpha male and his partner. Monogamy makes it easier for alpha males to display their strength and superiority over other males in the pack. We can’t think of a more iconic power couple in the animal kingdom!
Image: Dušan Veverkolog / Unsplash
Penguins | The Romantic Couple
Finally, a romantic love story! Penguins — in particular, macaroni penguins — aren’t afraid to show their affectionate side to a potential mate. Their courtship rituals have been described as “Shakespearean”, with evidence of male penguins scouring beaches until they can find the “perfect” pebble for their crush. If she accepts the pebble (it must be perfectly round and smooth), the couple will commence their mating ritual and potentially bond for life. When their chick is born, the mother ventures off to find food whilst the father remains to protect the chick.
Many penguin species are entirely monogamous, and return to their loving mate year after year during the mating season. When macaroni penguins see their mate, they sometimes produce an “ecstatic display” of affection; puffing up their chests, swinging their heads and making a gurgling sound.
Does your love-life resonate with any particular species? We think it’s adorable that these animal species mate for life, even though they commit to one another for different reasons.
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