Australia: Strange Aussie Marsupial Mates Until It Dies

Australia, the land of the marsupials, have yet another new marsupial that happens to mate until death do them part: The Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus vandycki). If this isn’t quite the strange sexual habit. This little guy literally has so much sex that its puts aside its own survival in order to continue mating.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia discovered the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, found in Tasmania, Australia. There are also Mainland Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii mimetes) found in Eastern Australia. In recent years, five new antechinus species have been discovered.

Dangers of The Antechinus Mating Season

Mammalogist Dr. Andrew Barker describes the males tendency to –fueled by much testosterone–engage in “orgies of violence and sex”. While this does sound action-packed exciting, this tiny, mouse-like mammal loses HALF its total population during the mating season each year. This is because for two to three weeks within the mating season, the male’s immune system fails from overabundance of sex leading to hair loss, internal bleeding, and ulcers. Even so, they don’t stop–not until death.

Dr. Barker gives the reason for this strange sexual behavior as large quantities of “testosterone triggers a malfunction in the stress hormone shut-off switch; the resulting rise in stress hormones cause the males’ immune systems to collapse.” Father antechinus have no part in the upbringing of their children.

The Future of Oversexed Marsupial Species

Antechinus researchers are hoping for federal protection, but this might take more time than is helpful. A more commonplace–yet very real–reason the atechinus numbers are so low is that their habitat is under threat due to dangers like deforestation and climate change. Australia is home to the most marsupials and some of the most biodiversity in all the world. Fun fact: 9 out of 10 of its mammal species are actually unique to Australia.

Even though these strange Tasmanian marsupials were only just discovered, we are already burdened with the knowledge of their endangerment due to human destruction. While human impacts certainly do not help, the suicidal mating habits of antechinus are probably something of a danger in itself.  Still, as far as ways to die, this has one is worthy of interest.