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BIG LIST: Animal Aphrodisiacs

So the tortoise story got us thinking – if aphrodisiacs don’t work, just how do animals spice up their love life when things go a little stale? Well, it turns out they may take a few cues from us.

Sunday 24 June 2012, 02:45PM

■ Giving it back: The strategically timed back rub keeps everyone happy: The woman gets a scientifically proven relaxation treatment, while the man greatly increases his chances of touching boobies later that night.

But we’re not the only ones evolved and civilised enough to discover this magical ritual – the golden orb weaving spider has also discovered its love making capabilites.

Because despite having eight legs, the male spider has some serious manhood issues relating to his size. Indeed he’s so small compared to the female that he’s able to climb all the way on top of her before putting silk on her back and spreading it around in massage motions.

This has nothing to do with romance: It’s all about survival. Because if the female isn’t satisfied by his performance, she will eat him. And not in a sexy way.

■ Attention seekers: Whether it be Psycho or Bloodsucking Freaks, men have for decades used scary movies to prey on vulnerable females. But it turns out birds caught onto that little trick way before we did. The splendid fairy-wren, a species from Australia, has basically figured out how to create its own horror movie in the middle of the forest.

And let’s face it, with a name like splendid fairy-wren, you need all the help you can get. When the male wren hears the call of its predator, the much more masculine sounding butcherbird, they use a special call that, in defiance of logic, clearly gives away its position.

To the ladies. Because it turns out female wrens are much more attentive to the male’s song when it comes right after the predator’s call.  


■ Putting the boot in: There are few things in the world that man has not, at some point, managed to use for sexual pleasure. After all, we’re a pretty creative species, and we have a long list of sometimes hilariously impractical sexual fetishes to prove it. But some animals may also be more human than we think.

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Female orangutans, for example, actually make their own instruments of sexual pleasure. Or, as Petter Boeckman of the Norwegian Natural History Museum so delicately puts it, they “make dildos out of wood and bark”.

They’re also capable of having fetishes, apparently. Take Gabriel, a chimp at the Southwest National Research Center, USA, who has developed an unusual attraction for shoes. According to witnesses, Gabriel pleasured himself by “obsessively rubbing his caretaker’s leather boot”.


■ Extra padding: A pimped-out bachelor pad is basically an extremely unsubtle way of screaming “I enjoy sex with ladies”. Most animals aren’t this sophisticated. But the male bowerbird isn’t most animals – he’s basically the Ron Jeremy of the animal kingdom, specialising in turning his nest into a funky sex shrine.

First, the bowerbirds will take weeks gathering stuff to decorate their new bower. But they don’t just randomly throw it together – they actually arrange the various elements in the way most likely to attract the ladies.

You’d think that after all the effort to build these nests that they’d actually live there, but nope, they use them exclusively as their den of late-night lovemaking. 

■ Trojan spider: We all probably believe that man is unique in the animal kingdom in that he’s the only one to lie about having a job/a car/no STDs in order to spread his seed. However, it turns out spiders lie for sex, too.

More specifically, the nursery web spider does. The males actually seduce the females by giving them gifts – a delicious dead fly wrapped in silk perhaps – before climbing on her back and getting down to business. But that’s not the disturbing part.

The male spiders sometimes wrap up some garbage in their silk, then present it to a female as if it were a real gift. At this point it really is business time, because if the male’s not before the female unwraps her (possibly literal) poop sandwich, she’ll realise she’s been duped and kick him out. 



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