Which Animals Are Actually Monogamous?

  • We differentiate between social and sexual monogamy. While many animals are socially monogamous, sexual monogamy is much more rare, meaning animals often have a partner for life but engage in sexual activity with others.
  • There are some fish species that are monogamous, such as the French Angelfish, and they do everything together, form hunting, defending their territory, and just spending time together hanging out.
  • Black vultures are an example of an animal that is extremely monogamous, to the point of attacking other vultures that are caught philandering.

Monogamy is usually tied to humans, and it is hard to imagine that any animal would be willing to “put a ring on it.” However, certain species value loyalty to their romantic partners above all else, and we can find traces of monogamy all over the animal kingdom. Of course, it isn’t the dominant way of life, and scientists believe that only about 5% of all of the mammal species in the world practice monogamy, but still, it exists. 

Sometimes, this monogamy is not even sexual, and animals can simply choose to pick a partner with whom they will live together and raise their young, but still mate with other animals. One could even say that that is an extremely progressive way of looking at relationships, although that is an entirely different topic.

Nonetheless, once we start looking beyond mammals, more surprises are awaiting us. It turns out that almost 90% of all bird species are monogamous. Naturally, many other animals choose to live that way, and in this article, we will take a look at some of the more interesting examples. We will try to find the species that are socially and sexually monogamous but expect some exceptions.

The Monogamous Lone Wolf

The first example we should talk about is gibbons. These primates can be found all over Southeast Asia, and they mostly lead a monogamous life during the entirety of their 40-year lifespan. These apes form strong bonds with each other and are known to be quite supportive while raising a family. Their relationships often resemble those of humans quite a bit, with them hanging out together, taking care of their young, but also breaking up and cheating, which means that they picked up on the positives as well as the negatives. 

hese wild animals start breeding by the age of two, and they stay with their first partner for good
These wild animals start breeding by the age of two, and they stay with their first partner for good.

Wolves are another example of an animal that is extremely into monogamy. These wild animals start breeding by the age of two, and they stay with their first partner for good, building their wolf pack. They have a new litter almost yearly since wolves can mate until they die. This is why it can be especially depressing to see a lone wolf wandering about. That wolf is probably just looking for a new partner since his old one probably passed away or was killed. 

Commitment Is Not That Uncommon

Keeping up with some more mammals, we have beavers, another example of animal monogamy. Even though the number of monogamous mammal species isn’t quite large, beavers are among the most shining examples of it. Beavers work hard to maintain their relationships and take care of their partners, and they stay together until one of them dies. Call us old-fashioned, but we can’t help but respect that.

In the reptile world, we have the Tiliqua rugosa, also known as the shingleback skink or the bobtail. They can be found exclusively in Australia, and they also remain exclusive in their relationships. Males court their future partners for months by doing all that they can, including caressing, licking, and bringing them food. Once the female accepts the offer and enters the relationship, we can witness some of the most stable pairs in the animal kingdom, with a partnership that lasts for more than 20 years.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

In the world of birds, we have several examples of true monogamy, meaning sexual and social. We already mentioned how 90% of birds are socially monogamous, but not all are sexually monogamous.  However, certain species are all-in on the monogamous lifestyle, and we can start the list with the barn owls. It is one of the most widespread species of birds, and they also stay loyal to a single partner for their entire life. Males do their best to seduce the females by giving them gifts and loudly screeching, and once they fall for their charms, the couple is set for life.

Another bird species that is completely monogamous is the bald eagle. Not only is this bird the national bird of the United States of America, but it also upholds values of its own. Bald eagles stay completely monogamous despite their lifestyle, which often takes them far away from their partners. During the winter, they fly solo, and they get back together when its time for mating season. Most pairs of bald eagles stay together for more than 20 years.

Why not end this article with an animal that has become a symbol of love all across the world? We are talking about the swan, and the reason they symbolize long-lasting love is that they live it. These birds are known for their monogamous relationships where they are extremely committed, more so than most other animals. They share incubation duties, which is an extremely rare occurrence in the bird kingdom. Well, as we can see, there are plenty of animals that manage to stay loyal to each other and lead a monogamous life, despite living in the wilderness. Perhaps some of them can serve as an example to us humans as well.


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