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Getting Down in the Wild: What Animals Can Teach Us About Dating

Swans looking at each other and making a heart.

Feeling like you’re on a perpetual quest for love? Well, you’re not alone. Our friends in the animal kingdom are always looking to connect. And, believe it or not, they have some great advice on how to get the job done.

Blue Crabs

When a blue crab’s diet is almost 25% other blue crabs, under-the-sea dating starts looking more like The Hunger Games. Females will emit an intoxicating smell that suppresses the appetites of the male crabs. Then, after she meets the right pair of claws, she will release a second chemical that encourages the male crab to cuddle her. During cuddle time, the male will use a couple legs to strap her on his back and, together, they explore the ocean floor.

Lesson Learned: Choose your fragrance wisely and you could find yourself in a week-long cuddle session. Choose poorly, and you could be eaten alive.

Galapagos Tortoises

Male Galapagos Tortoises are always looking for ladies. If two males meet while on the prowl, they will stand on their legs and start a neck stretching contest to determine who gets to romance the female tortoise. Whereas the bigger tortoise is guaranteed some action, the smaller will slink away. Frustrated and desperate, the smaller tortoise will attempt romantic interludes with a variety of non-interested parties, including other males and boulders.

Lesson Learned:  Although your friends probably won’t get naked with you, they’ll still hang out with you if your romantic attempt doesn’t pan out. So, you might as well take a risk and say hello.

Polar Bears

Once the male polar bear finds his favorite she-bear, he will follow her for miles through freezing arctic terrain. For days, he will literally walk in her footsteps until he catches up. Once the two meet, they will nuzzle each other and play together for hours. If all goes well during the heavy petting session, the lady polar bear will lead her guy to a private place, so they can get down without interruption.

Lesson Learned: Persistence and a little effort can pay off big.

Nursery Web Spiders

To grease the romance wheels, male nursery web spiders will present females with gifts packaged neatly in silk. Because the mating window is only as long as the time it takes for her to inspect—and potentially eat—her gift, it’s in his best interest to get her a large, tasty snack dressed up in nice packaging. Although most males play fair, those who missed etiquette 101 presented their females with subpar fly meat. Even worse; however, were the super cheap male flies that presented empty silk-wrapped packages.

Lesson Learned: When it comes to gift giving, a little thought goes a long way. Also, do not confuse being financially responsible with being a stingy tightwad.


Male bowerbirds spend all their time building ornate love dens to attract potential mates. From an early age, the male will scour the area for branches, leaves, snail shells—even pieces of shiny litter—to decorate his bachelor pad. To improve his real estate, he will clear out every piece of surrounding grass and build a luxurious entry way to encourage visitors. Once the male completes construction, he invites the ladies to check out his digs and woos them with an ornate song and dance routine during their visit.

 Lesson Learned: When you’re ready to get serious, make sure you’re not operating from your parents’ basement.

Special Thanks: Jeff Shields, Marine Biologist, Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceFrank Indiviglio, Consulting Zoologist,

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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