There is a small mouse-like marsupial mammal that lives in Australia, whose males apparently mate continuously until they die. Despite the fact that two new species of this type of mammal have been recently identified, scientists are currently fighting to get this species on the endangered list, as its numbers are plummeting dramatically, due to climate change and man made activities.
This particularly interesting species is called an antechinus and it is a very small mousy mammal with a long nose, big beaded eyes and frizzy hair. Its most interesting feature however is its mating pattern, that is extreme, to say the least. Initially, its males become extremely determined to find a mate due to an abrupt rise in testosterone levels.
Then, after they start mating with females, their stress hormone levels also rise, but become unable to regain normal values. Therefore, the antechinus males will mate continuously for as long as 14 hours, which is really not the pleasureful activity that it might sound like.
Exactly like any beneficial activity existent in nature, sexual intercourse can become extremely painful and dangerous when performed for such a long period of time. And so, unable to halt its sexual activity, the antechinus males end up losing their fur in entire patches at a time and even bleeding internally, due to the immense stress and physical exhaustion caused by this extreme mating marathon.
And so, they ultimately die, exhausted in every way possible. Usually, all the males of the antechinus species die after the mating season, leaving only the females responsible of birthing their cubs and raising them to maturity. The only beneficial aspect of this scenario could be that the females have enough food sources this way. They normally feed on ants and other small insects.
But what is decimating the antechinus population lately has nothing to do with their extreme reproductive behavior and everything to do with man made alteration to their environment. Due to intense logging activities conducted in their natural habitats, the antechinus individuals have been gradually losing their place.
One of the newly proclaimed species, the Mainland Dusky Antechinus lives in Southeastern Australia and the second new species, the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus precily in the Tasman Peninsula, as its name mentions.
It is the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus who is in grave danger at the moment, as its individuals have been moving higher and higher along the years, towards the mountain peaks, in order to keep safe from loggers. But now the situation has gotten to the point where they literally have nowhere else to go, and so, it has become imperative that they be added to the endangered list, as they will otherwise disappear for good.
Renowned mammal specialist, Dr. Andrew Baker, has explained that Australia holds an immense variety of new species, but that all too often they disappear before there is time to log their specific features. He points out that climate change is causing massive damage to the mammal populations of Australia and that strict and swift measures need to be implemented immediately.
As the effects of climate change constitute a subject that the entire world is fighting to improve, there is little to be done in tackling the specific effects on the habitat of the minute antechinus mammal. However, a place on the endangered species list might help local authorities halt the logging activity that is being conducted on their habitats.
Image Source: abc.net.au