by Jamie Schmid, visuals by Aditi Bhandari
Northwestern Sex Week, happening this past week, has been quite the educational experience: condoms and lube at the rock, a documentary screening about how to lose your virginity and a sex fest in Norris. These events certainly answer a lot of questions about Northwestern sex life, but it leaves one inquiry lingering in the minds of many students: how do the animals we see on campus mate?
It cannot truly be Sex Week until we analyze sex habits of animals roaming around our campus. After all, Spring is mating season for most animals. Here are explanations of how the cute animals all around us do the dirty.
Have you ever been at a party with a creepy guy who will not leave you alone, but somehow you end up dancing with him? If so, congrats! You have experienced a rabbit mating ritual. When a female rabbit is ready to conceive, a male rabbit will chase her around until she stops. The female rabbit then boxes in front of the male rabbit with her front paws. Perhaps she is telling him to get lost. Nevertheless, this boxing continues until either the male or female rabbit leaps into the air. Then the other rabbit reciprocates with a leap. This leaping or hopping dance can last for several minutes. Eventually, both rabbits become tired of dancing and decide to mate.
Disclaimer: duck mating involves less dancing and more sex organs. When male ducks are ready to penetrate a female, a 20cm corkscrew penis springs from their body. The actual act of mating takes about one-third of a second. But despite not being able to last that long, male ducks are huge fans of orgies and rough sex. Sometimes three or four male ducks will attempt to mate with a female, resulting in injury or death. In order to protect themselves, female ducks’ vaginas are lengthy and twisted, full of dead-ends and other protective measures. In theory, it is harder for a male duck, (or multiple male ducks) to fit their penis into such a maze-like opening. I warned you this was not as kid-friendly as bunny dancing.
If the duck mating was too much, the monogamous life of the robin bird will make you feel much better. They choose one mate for each season, and typically try to find the same mate the next breeding season. In order to find a partner, a male robin must complete two tasks. First, the male robin feeds the female. He does this to strengthen the bond between them, and fatten her up for pregnancy. How sweet of him! Second, a male robin sings in order to announce to all the lady robins that he wants a mate. Once a female robin is wooed both by song and by food, she is ready to mate.
Like the robin, chipmunks usually mate once a year during the spring. However, if the weather stays warm enough, they might even mate again. Scandalous. Normally, several male chipmunks compete for one female. The male chipmunks know she is open to mating because of the chirping sound she emits. This sound signals her “readiness” to mate. The next time you hear chirping outside your window on a spring morning, you will know it is a chipmunk announcing her sexual desires. What a nice morning thought.
It is a beautiful spring morning and you hear chirping outside your windows. Because you are an intelligent In Our Nature reader, you know that is the sound of a chipmunk calling a mate. Then you hear hammering outside your window. Could this be another mating call? Indeed, it is. The tapping or hammering sounds that woodpeckers make are often a way to communicate with a mate. Males attract females by tapping or drumming different rhythms, and also by calling or chirping. Tapping on a tree is used to designate territory, and to gain the attention of a partner. A female woodpecker might think, “Wow, that is one cool tree beat.” Similarly, she might think, “Wow, that guy can make a darn good hole in a tree.”
There you have it. All the mating information you ever wanted to know about Northwestern’s animal residents. While NU Sex Week may only last one week, animal sex week lasts for the whole spring.