Penguins prefer to be `married', but they suffer long separations due to their migratory habits. When reunited, a pair will stand breast to breast, heads thrown back, singing loudly, with outstretched flippers trembling. Two weeks after a pair is formed, their union is consummated. The male makes his intentions known by laying his head across his partner's stomach. They go on a long trek to find privacy, but the actual process of intercourse takes only three minutes. Neither penguin will mate again that year.
The male Adele penguin must select his mate from a colony of more than a million, and he indicates his choice by rolling a stone at the female's feet. Stones are scarce at mating time because many are needed to build walls around nests. It becomes commonplace for penguins to steal them from one another. If she accepts this gift, they stand belly to belly and sing a mating song.
Hippos have their own form of aromatherapy. Hippos attract mates by marking territory, urinating and defecating at the same time. Then, an enamored hippo will twirl its tail like a propellor to spread this delicious slop in every direction. This attracts lovers, and a pair will begin foreplay, which consists of playing by splashing around in the water before settling down to business.
3. THE MALE UGANDA KOB
Exhaustion is the frequent fate of the male Uganda kob, an African antelope. Like many species of birds and mammals, the kob roams in a social group until the mating season, when the dominant male establishes a mating territory, or lek. But the females decide which territory they wish to enter and then pick the male they think most attractive. He then mates with all the females until he is too weak to continue (usually due to lack of food) and is replaced by another.
Squid begin mating with a circling nuptial dance. Teams of squid revolve around across a `spawning bed' a 200 metres in diameter. At daybreak they begin having sex and continue all day long - they only take a break so the female can drive down and deposit eggs. When she returns to the circle, the two go at it again. As twilight falls, the pair go offshore to eat and rest. At the first sign of sunlight, they return to their spot and do it all over again. This routine can last up to two weeks, ensuring a healthy population of squid.
The answer to one of our oldest jokes: `How do porcupines do it?' `Veeery carefully!' is not quite true. The truth is more bizarre than dangerous. Females are only receptive for a few hours a year. As summer approaches, young females become nervous and very excited. Next, they go off their food, and stick close by the males and mope. Meanwhile the male becomes aggressive with other males, and begins a period of carefully sniffing every place the female of his choice urinates, smelling her all over. This is a tremendous aphrodisiac. While she is sulking by his side, he begins to `sing'.
When he is ready to make love, the female runs away if she's not ready. If she is in the mood, they both rear up and face each other, belly-to-belly. Then, males spray their ladies with a tremendous stream of urine, soaking their loved one from head to foot - the stream can shoot as far as 7 feet.
If they're not ready, females respond by 1) objecting verbally 2) hitting with front paws like boxers 3) trying to bite 4) shaking off the urine. When ready, they accept the bath. This routine can go on for weeks. Six months after the beginning of courtship, the female will accept any male she has been close to. The spines and quills of both go relaxed and flat, and the male enters from behind. Mating continues until the male is worn out. Every time he tries to stop, the female wants to continue. If he has given up, she chooses another partner, only now she acts out the male role. To `cool off', females engage in the same courtship series, step-by-step, in reverse order.
It is advised never to stand close to a cage that contains courting porcupines.
Two male geese may form a homosexual bond and prefer each other's company to any female's. Sometimes, however, a female may interpose herself between them during such a courtship, and be quickly fertilised. They will accept her, and weeks later the happy family of three can be seen attending to its tiny newborn goslings.
7. WHITE-FRONTED PARROTS
These birds, native to Mexico and and Central America, are believed to be the only species besides humans to kiss. Before actually mating, male and female will lock their beaks and gently flick their tongues together. If kissing is satisfying for both parties, the male boldly takes the next step, by regurgitating his food for his girlfriend, to show his love. White-fronted parrots also share parenting, unlike many other species. When the female lays her one egg, both parents take turns incubating it. When the baby hatches, the couple feed and care for their offspring together.
Why are grasshoppers so noisy? It's because they're singing to woo their partners. They have as many as 400 distinct songs, which they sing during their courtship and mating cycles. Some males have a different song for each distinct mating period - for example, there may be a flirting song, then a mating song.
Lesbian mating is practised by between 8% and 14% of the seagulls on the Santa Barbara islands, off the California coast. Lesbian gulls go through all the motions of mating, and they lay sterile eggs. Homosexual behaviour is also known in geese, ostriches, cichlid fish, squid, rats and monkeys.
10. RED-SIDED GARTER SNAKES
These snakes are small and poisonous, and live in Canada and the Northwestern United States. Their highly unusual mating takes place during an enormous orgy. Twenty-five thousand snakes slither together in a large den, eager to copulate. In that pile, one female may have as many as 100 males vying for her. These `nesting balls' grow as large as two feet high. Now and then a female is crushed under the heavy mound - and the males are so randy that they continue to copulate, becoming the only necrophiliac snakes!
11. LYNX SPIDERS
When a male lynx spider feels the urge, he will capture his beauty in his web and wrap her in silk. Offering her this elegant meal (the silken web) is his way of wooing. When the mood is right, the female, distracted by her feast, will allow her suitor to mount her and begin mating. Oblivious, she ignores him and enjoys her supper.