Diary of a Vet Student: Sex in other species: fun factoids

Diary of a Vet Student: Sex in other species: fun factoids

Hyena reproduction is no laughing matter

Whether it’s a silly Cosmo article or a sex special in The Ontarion, almost all of what we read about reproduction relates back to humans. As a veterinary student, I often find our own species quite boring, and sex is no exception. The animal kingdom features great reproductive diversity. Here I share with you just a bit of the intriguing knowledge that I’ve gained.

Hyenas operate in a matriarchal society, meaning that females are the dominant sex. Interestingly, the external genitalia of male and female hyenas appear almost identical. With labial fat resembling a scrotum, and a peniform clitoris, it can be hard to tell which sex is which!

Courtesy of Warrington Animal Welfare CC0

Male cats have a barbed penis. Believed to be hormonally associated, these barbs on the glans of the feline penis are reduced after castration (neutering).

Some mammals get actual ‘boners’ — more specifically called the os penis. Not present in humans, this bone is believed to aid in penetration before the male is fully erect.

Courtesy of Pixabay CC0

Donkeys can have a 14-month gestation period. Most jennies will give birth after about a year, but gestation can last between 11 and 14 months. If you think that’s long, be grateful you aren’t an elephant. Their gestation periods can last almost two whole years!

Speaking of donkeys, most people know that a mule is the product of a horse and a donkey mating. However, this is only partly true. When a female horse and a male donkey mate, a mule is produced. When a male horse and a female donkey mate, the result is actually called a hinny.

Courtesy of Wikipedia CC0

Male honey bees only mate once. When copulating, the internal penis (endophallus) of the drone (male bee) breaks off inside the queen (the only mating female), resulting in his death. Unfortunately for the male, the queen will go on to obtain millions of sperm from several other drones during her mating flight.

Courtesy of Pexels CC0

Female snapping turtles can store viable sperm for several years. This is believed to be an evolutionary mechanism and can be particularly important for the species if a female goes multiple seasons without mating opportunities.

Courtesy of Pixabay CC0

Alpacas breed on the ground, rather than standing up. When receptive to the male, a female alpaca will sit in what is known as the ‘cush’ position. Also curious is the mating noise of the male, referred to as ‘ogling.’ This noise helps induce ovulation in female alpacas, who will only ovulate after being bred by the male.

Photo courtesy of Pexels via CC0

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