Bad Romancers - The Worst Dates In The Animal World

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Every year Valentine’s Day arrives to a chorus of cheers and moans. For some it can be a painful reminder of bad dates and awkward card exchanges. However, no matter how bad a date we doubt it can be any worse than what these notorious bad romancers have to endure. Yes, the course of true love doesn’t run smooth for some of our zoo residents.

Here are some of our worst Romeos and Juliet’s:


Black Widows

Black widows are infamous femme fatales, a reputation that’s been gained from their brutal mating habits.

When a male is ready to court a female black widow, he steps on her web and performs a dance. This display of fancy footwork isn’t in the name of romance but actually stops the female from eating him straight away. Although she has eight eyes, the female’s main view of the world comes from the hairs on her legs. These hairs detect movement on the web, allowing her to pounce on prey. By moving his feet in a certain pattern, the male lets the female know that he comes in the name of love not dinner.

If his dance has been successful, the male will approach the female to mate. Of course, while in the act of mating, he is no longer able to perform his soothing dance. This means that once his courtship is over the female has him in her grips and it’s time for her dinner.

Praying mantis

Like the black widow, the praying mantis has some cannibalistic dating habits.

She lures a mate in by releasing pheromones, who then enters into a courtship dance in order to woo his alluring lady. Once successful, the male will climb on top of the female in order to start mating… putting him in a very vulnerable position.

Students enjoying an education session with a live animal

Clinging to her back, his head next to hers, the female can find it hard to resist such an easy meal. In some mating rituals the female will chomp down on the male’s top half, while the bottom continues to perform its reproductive function. Some scientists have claimed that this form of sexual cannibalism actually increasing the chance of reproductive success, as without his noggin the male preying mantis can continue the romance longer - #sosweet.

Komodo Dragons

The big V-Day can often prompt big declarations of single ladies ‘doing it for themselves’. But few animals take this mantra as serious as the super independent Komodo dragon.

A komodo dragon at ZSL London Zoo.

In rare cases, it has been recorded that some females have been able to produce young without a male.  Eggs develop without being fertilised by sperm, this process is called ‘parthenogenesis’. This process may be particularly useful in the evolutionary sense as loan female lizards washed  up on an island could potentially found a new population in the absence of male lizards.

Beyonce’s single ladies would be proud of this lizard.


Honeybees live in a matriarchal society, meaning it's female governed. Of the thousands of bees that the Queen will lay, 95% of these eggs will be female worker bees. Only 5% will be male and these are referred to as drones.

When a new queen is born, she has to kill all her rival sisters before she is able to go on the hunt for love. With this messy business taken care of, she goes in search of drones. These lucky ones will be fathers to tens of thousands of children, as she only performs one act of mating in order to give birth for the next three years.

The down side? Their penises will explode.

That’s right – explode. During mating, the male’s penis will be severed from his body (killing him) and remain with the queen until fertilization is complete. And then it explodes, leaving the now fertile queen to rule her female-centric hive. 


With a body covered in deadly sharp spines, the porcupine is hardly an animal you want to cuddle, making romance a little challenging.

A group of porcupines at ZSL London Zoo

Male porcupines daren’t risk approaching a female unless she’s given him the go ahead. Meaning he has to do some serious wooing. Unfortunately for the lady porcupines, males like to flirt by urinating on their prospective mate.

Yep, you heard us: they wee on the females. Males will drench their potential lovers from a distance, using a powerful stream of urine. If the female is suitably wooed by this, she will flatten her quills and allow male to mate with her safely.

Maybe this animal will put into perspective any bad flirting that you’ve encountered. 

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