It’s the world’s oldest story:
Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl isn’t as interested, but eventually she’s won over by boy. Then they come together, build a happy family, and…
…move on to new partners, maybe within that same mating season…or day.
“Together forever” is a staple of most romance stories for humans, but in the animal kingdom, monogamy is much less common. Still, there are a handful of species that believe in a one and only, species like:
Not only do these miniature antelopes mate for life (and once they do, they’re rarely spotted without their mates), they’re dedicated team parents…who believe in tough love. After a 6-month gestation, both parents will take care of the offspring, who will live with mom and dad until the next baby is born.
When that day comes, however, the parents insist on “launching” the sub-adult child, chasing him or her out and focusing their attentions on the new baby.
For a jackal, there’s nothing more important than family.
Pairs mate for life, and once they do, they defend their territory—and their family unit—fiercely. They’re so bonded, sometimes the kids refuse to move out (they earn their keep by helping mom and dad babysit the younger ones).
And even when they’re not together, they stay in touch; jackals communicate good news (like the location of a kill) over long distances with specific howls.
Bush duikers—and most other sub-species of duiker—believe in true love…but also in personal space.
Though they mate for life, they tend to keep mostly-separate routines, even seeking out different types of places to rest (males tend to prefer hilltop perches, while females like low, densely-vegetated areas).
Apparently they’ve discovered the true secret to a lasting marriage: separate bedrooms.
Photo: Arno Meintjes
Talk about a modern family.
Not only do bat-eared fox dads insist on an active parenting role, caring for the kids as much as—and sometimes more than—the moms, the whole family ascribes to an animal kingdom version of “attachment parenting” (minus the baby carriers, of course).
Family groups live together in one small den, socially groom each other often, play together as a family, and even sleep as a group.
Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, Clarence Wong
Of course having a one-and-only comes with an obvious downside: jealousy of any-other-ones.
At least it does for elephant shrews. Though the members of a pair give each other a fairly wide berth in their shared territory, they check up on one another’s movements via scent marking (the forest floor version of reading a significant other’s texts, maybe?).
They also get a little…worked up over the idea of their honey making eyes at any other shrew-ducers. If a male crosses into their home turf, the male will forcefully chase him out; if a female does, the female will.
That’s one way of fighting temptation (literally)!