Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air, but we’re not the only species who share lifelong bonds with a partner. While the specifics may vary between species, and only a small percentage of mammals live a monogamous life, there are many species–ranging from mammals to insects, like termites and cockroaches–who mate with, stay with and raise their young with one partner. In the spirit of the holiday, here are 10 species who are known for their lifelong pair bonds.
Often victim to myths and stereotypes about being cold-blooded killers, wolves are really quite loyal to members of their family and have complex social structures within their packs. The alpha male and alpha female within packs mate for life and share leadership roles and responsibilities caring for their young and other pack members. The alphas are typically the only ones who breed, but occasionally others, known as subordinates, will also mate.
2. Bald Eagles
These fearsome raptors may not seem like the romantic type, but they also partner up for life. According to studies on their behavior, they court and reinforce their bond through elaborate displays that involve locking their talons in mid-air before free falling through the sky. Thanks to raptor cams, we’ve also been able to see these giant birds delicately caring for their young.
3. French Angelfish
Although it’s unclear why these fish choose to stay together because there’s nothing fancy about their mating ritual or reproduction, the French Angelfish might be the aquatic version of an inseparable couple. They’re estimated to spend half of their time swimming right at their partners side. When they reunite after brief periods apart, they circle each other in a behavior known as carouseling, which is thought to reinforce their pair bond.
4. Whooping Cranes
The tallest bird in North America, whooping cranes can live up to 24 years in the wild and migrate thousands of miles a year. They’re also known for mating for life, although they may choose a new mate if their partner dies.
5. Prairie Voles
Prairie voles have long fascinated scientists with their lifelong pair-bonds and live otherwise monogamous lifestyles. They co-parent their young, share the housework and have been known to experience grief and stay single in the wild if they lose their partner.
Photo credits: Thinkstock unless otherwise noted
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