13 Examples of Animals That Mate For Life (Pictures)

While monogamy can be a hot topic among humans, it’s a sure thing among many animal species. 90% of birds, some mammals, fish, and even a few reptiles are known to mate for life. Animals that mate for life are thought to be more successful at raising young, finding food, and evading predators. While monogamy is advantageous if one partner dies, many animals will take a new mate.

List of animals that mate for life

In this article, we will take a look at 13 interesting animals that mate for life.

1. Penguins

Emperor Penguins

Most penguins, with the exception of emperors and a few others, mate for life. Gentoo penguins are even known to have complex courtship rituals where the male penguin will search for the perfect rock to present to his intended. If she accepts the rock, they become a mated pair, but if she rejects it, he must continue his search or seek out a different female.


2. Beavers

One of the few mammals that mate for life are beavers. These dam-building aficionados usually find their mates around 2 years of age. They will then form colonies of mated pairs and raise their babies together.

A beaver couple will have one litter per year, often consisting of 1-4 babies. The babies will stay with their parents for 2 years, at which point they head out to find their own mates.

While they are monogamous, if a beaver’s mate is killed, it usually won’t stay alone but will find a new mate to live and reproduce with.


3. Lovebirds

lovebirds

You can’t talk about love without talking about lovebirds. There are 9 species of lovebirds, 3 of which are commonly kept in captivity. All 9 species are monogamous and normally form pair bonds when they reach sexual maturity at around 10 months of age.

Often touted as great pet birds for beginners, it can be rather cruel to keep these birds alone. They are very social and while they will bond closer to you by themselves, they will be happier kept in pairs.


4. Dik-Dik

dik-dik – Kenya

The dik-dik is a small species of antelope that is native to Africa. These tiny deer are only 12-16 inches tall and 6-13 pounds. Males of the species have horns, though females are slightly larger in size.

These small antelope often pair bond soon after they reach sexual maturity. They then defend a small territory from other dik-diks with the females chasing away other females and the males keeping away other males.

Dik-diks produce one baby at a time and it will stay with its parents until it is about 7 months old, at which point it will be chased out of the territory to find its own mate.


5. Sandhill Cranes

sandhill cranes flying

Scientific name: Grus canadensis

Another bird species that mates for life is the sandhill crane. These enigmatic birds attract mates through intricate dances and once mated they will stay together until one of them dies. At that point, the survivor will search for a new mate.

Each sandhill crane couple will produce 1-3 babies once a year and their babies will stay with them from hatching until their next clutch at about 10 months of age. Sexual maturity in sandhill cranes varies with the Florida subspecies reaching maturity around 2 and the northern migrating variety between 3-5.

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6. Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus 

Our national bird in America is also an animal that mates for life. Bald eagles typically pair up around the time they reach sexual maturity between 4 to 6 years old. Once they have found their life partner, bald eagles will remain monogamous until that partner dies.

Bald eagles return to the same nest and to each other during the breeding season, but will often hunt and fly alone the rest of the year. Each year they will add new materials to their nest before laying and nests can sometimes reach up to 10 feet in diameter and weigh up to 1000lbs. Each year the pair will have 1-3 babies and will care for them together before everyone leaves the nest for the year.


7. French Angelfish

French angelfish | image by LASZLO ILYES via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Pomacanthus paru

One of the few fish species that mate for life is the French angelfish. These fish pair off at a relatively young age and then will stay together for life. They live in shallow waters on and near coral reefs and will defend their territories from other French angelfish.

These fish are foragers feeding on small invertebrates, plants, and algae. They are often collected for the aquarium trade. With recent successes with captive breeding, the demand for wild-caught fish may start to decline.


8. Shingleback Lizards

shingleback lizards | image by Liz Lawley via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Tiliqua rugosa

Monogamy is rare in reptiles, so rare in fact that shingleback lizards are the only ones that fall into the category. Male shingleback lizards, also known as shingleback skinks, will fight other males to win over a female of their choosing. Once a male wins and the female accepts him, they will stay together for life.

These lizards are long-lived with average lifespans of around 20 years, and specimens over 50 are recorded. They give birth to live young once a year and each litter usually consists of 1-4 babies.


9. Swans

mute swans

Swans are the poster child for romance and love. Their beautiful white feathers and their reputation for monogamy led them to be introduced to many ponds and regions in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

These beautiful birds typically pair up around 2-3 years of age when they reach maturity and will then breed once a year every year after. They typically have up to 7 eggs at a time and the birds take turns incubating the eggs until they hatch.


10. Coyotes

Scientific name: Canis latrans

While coyotes are often vilified for hunting and killing small pets during the breeding season, these animals are actually very sweet parents and mate for life. Coyotes reach sexual maturity at around 2 years of age and this is when they choose their partners. They have pups once a year in the spring and extra caution should be taken with pets during this time.


11. Titi Monkeys

titi monkeys | image by Laura Wolf via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

These small monkeys mate for life and live in small groups consisting of a pair and their young. The lifespan of a titi monkey in the wild is thought to be around 15 years, but they can live up to 25 years in captivity.

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Female titi monkeys give birth to one baby a year and she and her partner will care for it until it is around 7 months old. At that time, it will venture out on its own to find its own partner. While the baby is young, its parents will take turns holding and caring for it.


12. Prairie Voles

prairie voles | image by theNerdPatrol via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Microtus ochrogaster

These short-lived rodents are another mammal that mates for life. While that life is only 2-3 years, these little mammals make the most of it, having up to 4 litters of up to 7 young a year.


13. Northern cardinals

male and female northern cardinals

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

The northern cardinal is one of the most iconic backyard birds in North America with the beautiful red color of the male. Cardinals are highly monogamous birds that will often mate for life. In some cases though, pairs will stay monogamous for the year and find new mates in the next season.