Drhoz! (drhoz) wrote in wtf_nature,
Drhoz!
drhoz
wtf_nature

Mate or Die

Strolling through TV Tropes and reached the Mate Or Die page.

Naturally, my mind turned towards real life examples - not to be confused with Mate AND Die, ones where the unfortunate animal gets eaten by its girlfriend afterwards; or snaps off its genitalia and bleeds to death; or works itself into such a frenzy of reproduction it dies of exhaustion (i.e. Swamp Antechinus); or where they just wander off quietly and die instead of having a post-coital nap... but where the animal really must mate or find itself facing a horrible death.

Unfairly, the only example I can think of is female.



The ferret Mustela putorius furo is the only domesticated mustelid ( I'm excluding pet skunks, and mink farming - both recent developments ). They were most probably bred from European or Steppe polecats, and can still happily interbreed with either (hybrids are a ghastly threat to New Zealand native wildlife). Ferrets are kept for hunting rabbits, as pets, biomedical research, protecting grain stores, running electrical cables through buildings ( Freddie is a registered Electrician's Assistant in NZ ) and for putting down trousers.

but back to the sex.

Once a unspayed jill ferret goes into heat, she MUST get pregnant have sex - sex induces ovulation. If she doesn't ovulate, she'll die of aplastic anaemia. This is because going into heat is linked to greatly increased oestrogen in her blood, and she'll stay in heat until some helpful hob ferret comes along to help her with her little problem. And as long as her oestrogen is through the roof, her bone marrow stops producing blood cells.

Poor girls.

I don't know if the same situation applies to their wild relatives, but I doubt it made bringing black-footed ferrets back from the brink of extinction any easier.

EDIT : And I've just been informed, if the anaemia doesn't get them, "the swollen vulva during heat presents the opportunity for infection back down along the uterus, and if left untreated and resulting in fatal endometritis or pyometra will likely get the rest :("

ta Dellway.
Tags: ferrets, mammal, predator, sex
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