10 Animals Who Mate For Life
Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally published on February 14, 2014. Enjoy!
As much as we like to think so, 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.
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.
Known for their elaborate dam building skills, beavers are monogamous creatures who stay together for life, living in family groups, or colonies, made up of parents and their offspring. Adults stay together in these colonies and care for their young for the first two years of their lives, teaching them valuable skills, before they go off to find their own mates.
They don’t just mate for life, but engage in an elaborate courtship ritual before settling down with a partner that consists of a precise sequence of dance moves when choosing a partner. They also raise their young together, before sending them off into the world to find their own mates.
Gibbons were once thought of as the perfect example of monogamy in non-human primates and one of the only primates who have monogamous relationships, but recent research has led scientists to believe their relationships are a little bit more complicated than they seem. Although still mostly monogamous, at least one study has found that gibbons will dump their partner and take up with a new one if the opportunity presents itself.
9. Titi Monkeys
Titi monkeys live mostly in the Amazon in small family groups consisting of parents and their young. These adorable and monogamous monkeys are believed to be very emotionally close and spend a lot of time near each other, cuddling, grooming each other and holding hands. Fathers in these tight-knit families also play a hugely important role as the main carrier and protectors of their young.
10. Sea Horses
Sea horses are unique and fascinating little creatures that live in a broad range of marine environments. Sea horses are technically considered a fish, but unlike most fish species, they form monogamous pairs that stay together for life. Sea horses are also known for the role the males play in reproduction. Females deposit eggs in the male’s pouch, where he fertilizes and carries them until giving birth.
All photos from Thinkstock unless otherwise noted.