This may be hard for humans to imagine, but sex in the animal kingdom is not always a pleasurable act. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has created some species that copulate in painful and bizarre ways. As long as the species can continue, these animals will lave down their lives or their appendages to ‘serve the cause’.
Males of most bird species don’t have phalluses. They reproduce by expelling sperm from a vent called a cloaca. However, male ducks are the exception. Their corkscrew penises evolved to fit a vagina which is a maze-like cluster of twists, turns and dead ends. It is said this genital arms race likely developed because females were compelled to have sex with multiple partners, and a labyrinthine vagina would allow them to retain some control over fertilization.
Sea slugs have both male and female reproductive organs and they use both during sex. A two-pronged penis takes care of sperm delivery, and a syringe-like “penis stylet” penetrates a mate’s body and injects prostate fluids. The penis is ringed at the base with a handful of large hooks and tipped with 20 to 30 spines that help to anchor the slug securely inside its partner.
Antechinus is a horny mouse-like creature found in Australia. During the mating season, males have sex with as many females as they can for up to 14 hours at a stretch. After days and days of such marathon sex, the males develop sores, lose their hair, and even go blind. Eventually, stress hormones burn out their immune systems, and their bodies give out completely.
With male seed beetles sporting spike-studded penises like these, the battle of the sexes is sadly a mismatched affair. A study says that even one mating episode with this “harmful genitalia” leaves the reproductive systems of female beetles noticeably scarred.
Female orb-web spiders are sexual cannibals. They eat their male partner during sex. But male have developed a strategy to save themselves – once they penetrate the female, they detach their genitalia called “palps” and scuttle away, out of the female’s reach.
Land snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sex organs. Once they select a likely partner, they flex a muscular sac inside their bodies and eject a dart-like structure into the other snail’s head, which delivers a kind of mucus that readies the snail to receive a sperm packet. Scientists say some species jab their mates over and over with their dart, with one stabbing its mate more than 3,000 times on average.
Male bed bugs use their needle-like penises to puncture the females’ exoskeletons wherever they can during sex. Sperm gets deposited into the wound, and travels through her body fluid to the ovaries. This successful strategy ensures that their sperm can’t be stored or rejected, though it comes at a significant cost to females.
If you’ve ever overheard the yowling of mating feral cats, you might already suspect that sex is somewhat uncomfortable for felines. Male cats have a penis ringed with dozens of rigid spines that rake the walls of the female’s vagina when the male withdraws.