‘Nature’s Nether Regions’ Author Menno Schilthuizen on the Greatest Sexual Perversions of the Animal World


Want to know more about a species? Check out the equipment they use and the way they reproduce to get the real story. It might sound strange, sure, but in Nature’s Nether Regions, ecologist and evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen shows us how much the sex lives of other living things can teach us about the creatures that inhabit this planet, as well as how some species evolve. And since some of those creatures like to get a little more funky than others, Schilthuizen put together, for Flavorwire, the following list of the seven biggest kinks in the animal kingdom.

Via Eran Finkle / Flickr

A crane-fly with a built-in vibrator

In a Central American crane-fly called Bellardina, the male sets the scene for his love-making by providing some background music. During mating, he rubs a scraper along a kind of washboard next to his penis, which sends a repeated humming vibration through the female’s nethers for the full duration of their embrace.

A masochist octopus

The male argonaut octopus does not use his penis to mate. Instead, he uses one of his arms to grab a sperm package released by his penis. This arm then miraculously detaches itself, swims towards the female and arm-delivers the sperm into her skin folds, where it remains, alive, for quite a while. The behavior is so weird that 19th-century zoologists initially mistook the detached arms for parasitic worms infecting the female.

Object abuse by ticks

The tick Argas persicus produces a sperm package in the shape of a soda bottle, complete with cap and fizz. Upon meeting a suitable female, he bites off the cap, and uses his legs to stick the bottle-shaped sperm grenade, neck first, into the female’s vagina, where the released carbon dioxide bubbles force the sperm into her inner sanctum.

Slugs sizing each other up

Almost all slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning they have a penis as well as a vagina, with which they fertilize each other simultaneously. When two Limax tiger slugs fancy one another, they embrace, and then extrude their bluish-translucent penises, which in some species are up to a yard long. The penises entwine, dangling down, until, at the end of the many hours it takes for erection to be completed, they exchange a small lump of sperm at the very tips.

Sexy sadist bedbugs

To bedbugs, love hurts. Literally. A male bedbug does not bother with a female’s vagina, but sinks his dagger-like penis straight into her belly. His sperm then navigate her internal organs until they find her ovaries, where they fertilize her eggs.

Necrophiliac spiders

Before mating with a female spider, a male spider creates a special “sperm-web,” masturbates into it, and then sucks his sperm back up into arm-like sperm holders on either side of his head. He then uses these structures to transfer sperm to the female. After that, most male spiders try to make a quick get-away, not to be eaten by the female. But the male of Tidarren sisyphoides, while pumping his sperm into the female, euthanizes himself. He just siffens and dies. The female then walks around with her dead lover dangling from her vagina for several hours after the deed.

Mutual consent in the mallard duck

The male mallard duck has an three-inch-long, coiled and spiny penis. Females’ similarly complex, multi-branched vaginas coil in the opposite direction to thwart male attempts at forced copulation. As long as she keeps her vaginal muscles taut, he cannot penetrate her.