Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

Suicidal Sex: Male Marsupial Mice Die After Endurance Mating

Male marsupial mice practice "suicidal sex" driven by competition for females

The diverse way in which nonhuman animals (animals) live is fascinating and we're constantly learning more and more about interesting patterns of behavior. One such recent discovery centers on the mating habits of marsupial mice, who aren't really mice at all. Rather, they are members of the marsupial Family Dasyuridae who are native to Australia and New Guinea.

A recent study by Diana Fisher of the University of Queensland summarized here reports on "suicidal sex" (known as semelparity) by male marsupial mice. The abstract for the original research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences can be seen here.

The story about these small mammals is very interesting. It turns out that females are highly promiscuous and this generates intense competition among makes. Breeding occurs when the food supply, insects, is at its highest. And, because breeding only happens once a year, it pays off for males to put everything into sperm production and hope for the best. 

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

I'm not sure what lessons we humans can learn from the mating habits of these small marsupials but it's clear that male marsupial mice are very serious about leaving future progeny and are willing to die for the opportunity to do so.

Please stay tuned for more on the fascinating world of other animals.

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

more...

Subscribe to Animal Emotions

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?