10 Animals Who Mate for Life

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on February 14, 2014.

As much as we like to think so, we’re not the only species to 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 who mate with, stay with and raise their young with one partner.

Ranging from mammals to insects, here are 10 species who are known for their lifelong pair bonds.

1. Wolves

Often victim to myths and stereotypes about being cold-blooded killers, wolves are really quite loyal to members of their family — and they have complex social structures within their packs. The alpha male and alpha female within packs mate for life, and they share leadership roles and responsibilities caring for their young, as well as 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 bald eagle behavior, the birds 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

French angelfish

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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 partner’s 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

Whooping Cranes

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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 to mate for life, although they may choose a new mate if their partner dies.

5. Voles

voles

Photo Credit: Peter Trimming/Flickr

Prairie voles have long fascinated scientists with their lifelong pair-bonds and monogamous lifestyles. They co-parent their young, share housework and have been known to experience grief. These voles will even stay single in the wild if they lose their partner.

6. Beavers

Beavers

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Known for their elaborate dam-building skills, beavers are monogamous creatures who stay together for life, living in family groups 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.

7. Albatrosses

Albatrosses

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Albatrosses don’t just mate for life, but they also engage in an elaborate courtship ritual before settling down with a partner that consists of a precise sequence of dance moves. They raise their young together, before sending them off into the world to find their own mates.

8. Gibbons

gibbons

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gibbons were once thought of as the perfect example of monogamy in non-human primates, 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

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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 they spend a lot of time near each other, cuddling, grooming and holding hands. Fathers in these tight-knit families also play a hugely important role as the main carriers and protectors of their young.

10. Seahorses

seahorses

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Seahorses are unique and fascinating little creatures that live in a broad range of marine environments. Unlike most fish species, they form monogamous pairs that stay together for life. Seahorses 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.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

420 comments

Yvonne T
Yvonne T27 days ago

romantic:-)....and wow the seahorses suprised me the most!!!

SEND
heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Love them all - but the seahorse is the cutest

SEND
Hannah A
Hannah Aabout a month ago

Thank you for this

SEND
Jan S
Jan Sabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Thomas M
Thomas Mabout a month ago

thank you

SEND
Michael F
Michael Fabout a month ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

SEND
Cathy B
Cathy Babout a month ago

Thank you for reposting.

SEND
jan l
jan labout a month ago

Lovely article. There are many more animals that instinctively remain monogamous.
Interesting that we are amazed upon realizing that animals, fish, birds and insects have relationships. That they have a family, a community. That they, too, need and want to be social. That they have emotions. That they, too, have their ways of communicating with each other. It's been observed that dolphins call each other by name using differently pitched sounds (they also navigate by sonar). Many varieties of penguins are monogamous. And most apropos for the upcoming special day, consider the swan. Happy Valentine's Day ~
Swans

SEND
Caitlin L
Caitlin Labout a month ago

thank you for posting

SEND
Sue H
Sue Habout a month ago

Thanks for re posting this article.

SEND