Feel the Love: These 15 Adorable Animal Couples Are (Mostly) Monogamous
Do humans mate for life?
According to divorce rates, the answer is a definitive “maybe.” But in the wild, there’s no such thing as mediators and fancy divorce lawyers. For certain animal couples, they put up with each other’s stinky smells and long absences simply because their brains are hardwired to do so.
Get ready to feel the love because it turns out there are plenty of members of the animal kingdom who choose a spouse and stick with them until death. Ahead, check out the most surprising animal species who (mostly) mate for life.
1. Prairie vole
Not many rodents stick together, but the exception to this rule is the prairie vole. These little critters are socially but not genetically monogamous, meaning they’ll pick a mate and build a nest together to raise their young. But don’t be surprised if you catch either the male or female partner straying and mating with someone else from time to time. (Hey, it’s a big world out there.)
Experts claim prairie voles practice monogamy because of a brain chemical that’s more plentiful in this species compared to other rodents.
Next: These creepy crawlers are the king and queen of the colony.
You definitely don’t want these lovers taking up residence in your home, but that doesn’t change the reality of the situation: Termites mate for life.
While bees and ants have one queen and many males to service her, in the termite realm a single male king hooks up with the queen, and the two of them get busy maintaining the colony with more offspring.
Next: This cold-weather couple shares parenting duties, too.
3. Macaroni penguins
It should come as no surprise that this feathered pair sticks together for life, especially when you consider that more than 90% of bird couples are monogamous. But these unique penguins are especially sweet.
In the wild, macaroni penguin couples do a special dance when they see each other that’s known as an “ecstatic display.” The happy greeting involves puffing up their chests, swinging their heads from side to side, and making gurgling noises that sound a lot like joy. When’s the last time your paramour did something like that when they saw you?
Like many other penguins, the fathers care for the offspring while the mothers go out looking for food. Talk about an involved father.
Next: This animal couple sings a special song together.
4. Sandhill cranes
Ever wish your lover would sing a duet with you? Then, maybe you should have been born a sandhill crane.
These majestic birds don’t only mate for life — they also like to broadcast their love to whoever’s listening. The female squawks twice, and the male replies with one squawk. It’s like the bird version of saying, “Yes, beautiful, I love you, too.”
Next: In this pair, the father carries the growing babies.
It’s enough that male seahorses carry babies in their pouches, making seahorse dads one of the only fathers to experience pregnancy. But that’s not the only detail of seahorse courtship that’s exactly opposite from what’s expected.
Female seahorses can get jealous of one another and get into fierce competitions over males. Talk about a role reversal! To flirt, the seahorses intertwine tails in hopes of enticing one another.
Next: These mammals do pick a mate, but they might cheat on each other.
6. Lar gibbons
These monkeys behave a lot like human couples — they cheat on each other, break up, and pick new partners all the time. Some experts refer to these monkeys as “opportunistically promiscuous,” a description that plenty of humans can relate to.
But once they find their perfect primate match, they stick together for life, grooming one another and raising children. It all seems eerily familiar.
Next: This couple shares a love of dead things.
7. Black vulture
They’re not the most beloved animals in the world, but they are secret romantics. The male vulture circles the female with his neck extended and then dives toward her to show his affection.
Unlike many other couples on the list, these birds stick together all year long and even take turns sitting on their eggs while the other searches for food.
Next: Only species from certain countries are monogamous.
In a weird twist, it turns out that British beavers mate for life while American beavers practice more open relationships. No one knows why some beavers are faithful while others don’t seem to give a damn about sticking with just one mate.
Next: They are literally the alpha couple of the group.
9. Gray wolves
An alpha couple leads a pack of wolves. The male and female breed once per year and stick together for their entire lives.
Next: The male brings the female a particular gift in hopes of winning her affection.
10. Barn owls
These owls realize it’s wise to pick a mate and stick with them. The males of the species flirt by giving dead mice to their intended partners and screeching. And the female owls voice their pleasure at the gift by croaking thanks.
Next: They find each other during mating season.
11. Shingleback skinks
This Australian lizard may not hang out with his mate 24/7, but they do find each other during mating season and always manage to couple with the same partner. It’s like the animal version of a long-distance relationship.
The male caresses and licks his intended partner. Once a female gives the go-ahead, the couple walks close together, with the male allowing his lady to lead slightly. These lizardly partnerships can last for 20 years.
Next: The dads stick around for a while to help raise the kids.
These majestic birds might fly solo most of the time, but they mate with the same partners year after year without straying. Male eagles stick around to keep the eggs warm and also help their partners feed the offspring. Then, they disappear to fly around looking badass for most of the year.
Next: Their bodies literally make the shape of a heart.
The long, curved necks of swans combine to make a heart shape, which is the exact position they take while courting one another. There’s also a lot of grunting and hissing during a swan mating ritual.
But no matter what your thoughts are on the swan’s love language, the outcome is the same: Swans mate for life.
Next: They’re serious about protecting their living space.
These aquatic dwellers don’t only mate for life, they also pick a homestead and stick there. Angelfish pairs will aggressively defend their territory from intruders. If they could talk, they’d definitely be saying, “Get off my lawn!”
Next: It’s not uncommon for widows or widowers to remarry.
Albatrosses mate for life, but they will remarry if their spouse meets a tragic end.
Both partners take turns caring for the single egg their union produces at a time, proving that albatross dads are some of the more involved fathers of the animal kingdom.
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