10 Animals That Eat Their Mates

Animals That Eat Their Mates
Photo by Kris-Mikael Krister on Unsplash

It may sound like something out of a horror movie, but it’s true – some animals that eat their mates!

This behavior is known as sexual cannibalism and is surprisingly more common in the animal kingdom than you would think. 

From spiders to lizards, various creatures have adapted to this strange behavior. This post will explore ten shocking examples of animals eating their mates.

1. Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis
by Ted Van Pelt is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Praying mantises are notorious for being animals that eat their mates. It is one of the most well-known examples of sexual cannibalism in the animal kingdom.

During mating, the female praying Mantis will often turn around and start to eat the male’s head. 

This act of violence may seem gruesome, but it is beneficial for the female; by consuming the male, the female gains protein and other nutrients to help her produce healthy eggs.

However, not all female praying mantises engage in sexual cannibalism, and scientists are still studying the factors that influence this behavior.

2. Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider
by laurence_grayson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The black widow spider is one of the most well-known examples of animals that eat their mates.

Male black widow spiders have a dangerous mating ritual – once they mate with the female, they are likely to be devoured by her.

Research shows that female black widow spiders are more likely to eat their mates when hungry or have already mated with another male. 

The male spiders often sacrifice themselves to fertilize the female’s eggs and continue their species.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to black widow spiders, but their reputation for being evil and dangerous makes their behavior fascinating.

3. Green Anaconda

Green Anaconda
by Jim, the Photographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The green anaconda is the most giant snake in the world and can grow up to 30 feet long and weigh over 500 pounds.

Despite their impressive size, green anacondas are known to eat their mates after mating.

This behavior is believed to result from competition for resources and a way for the female to gain the energy she needs for reproduction.

Male green anacondas have been observed to have reduced mobility and reduced cognitive function after mating, making them an easy target for their female counterparts.

However, not all female green anacondas resort to cannibalism after mating, which is believed to be more common in captive anacondas than in their wild counterparts.

The green anaconda’s mate-eating behavior is not exclusive to their species.

4. Scorpion

by ashleytisme is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Scorpions are well-known for their aggressive and intimidating appearance, but did you know they are also part of the list of animals that eat their mates?

It’s true – certain species of scorpions engage in this shocking behavior, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Scorpions often engage in courtship rituals that involve complex dances and displays of dominance.

However, this can quickly turn violent when it comes time to mate. Male scorpions often approach females cautiously, as the female’s size and strength can be a danger to their lives.

It’s worth noting that not all scorpion species engage in this practice, and it’s primarily observed in those that have a more solitary lifestyle. 

Additionally, researchers have noted that the frequency of cannibalistic behavior can be influenced by factors such as hunger and stress levels.

In any case, the idea of being eaten alive by your mate is undoubtedly terrifying.

Scorpions are just one example of the many animals that eat their mates, reminding us once again of the strange and often brutal ways of nature.

5. Octopus

by Elias Levy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Octopuses are known for being intelligent creatures, but they are also infamous for eating their mates.

Male octopuses will often approach a female and, instead of trying to win her over with charm, they will quickly mate with her before making a quick escape.

This is because female octopuses are known for being cannibalistic and sometimes turn on their mates after mating. 

Interestingly, the male octopus has developed a clever strategy for avoiding being eaten after mating.

Once the male has deposited his sperm inside the female, he will use one of his tentacles to insert a “sperm packet” inside her.

This packet contains a substance that dulls the female’s aggressive tendencies toward her mate. 

Despite this tactic, however, some males are still unsuccessful at avoiding their fate as a post-mating meal. Studies have shown that their mates eat up to 30% of male octopuses.

So, while octopuses may be incredibly fascinating and intelligent animals, their mating habits can be shocking and brutal.

6. Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider
by Gerald Yuvallos is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Jumping spiders are small but mighty predators that belong to the arachnid family.

These agile creatures are known for their incredible leaping abilities and sharp vision, allowing them to locate their prey quickly.

But as it turns out, jumping spiders are also animals that eat their mates.

While not all jumping spider species exhibit this behavior, several are known to practice sexual cannibalism.

In these instances, the female will lure the male into her web with pheromones, where she will then attack and kill him.

The female will then feast on the male’s body, sometimes even consuming him entirely.

This behavior is thought to serve several purposes. Firstly, it provides the female with a much-needed source of protein to support her reproductive efforts.

Secondly, it ensures that the male’s genes are passed on to the offspring, even if he is not present to mate with the female again. 

Finally, it may act as a way for the female to eliminate potential competition from other males.

While it may seem shocking and brutal to us humans, sexual cannibalism is a common occurrence in the animal kingdom. 

It is estimated that up to 90% of praying mantis mating sessions end with the female consuming the male.

So the next time you encounter a jumping spider, remember it is an animal that eats its mates.

7. Sea Slugs

Sea Slugs
by James St. John is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sea slugs, or nudibranchs, are fascinating creatures in various shapes and sizes. Some species are brightly colored and intricately patterned, while others are dull and plain.

But despite their varied appearances, many sea slugs share a common trait: they are cannibalistic and will eat their mates.

In some species of sea slugs, the mating process is violent and aggressive. The male will attempt to hold the female in place while he transfers his sperm.

But in many cases, the female will turn the tables and devour her mate while he is still mating.

This behavior is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps to ensure the survival of the female and her offspring.

By consuming her mate, the female gains valuable nutrients that can be used to support the development of her eggs.

And by eliminating her mate, she also eliminates any competition for resources or potential threats to her offspring.

Despite their cannibalistic tendencies, sea slugs are essential to the marine ecosystem.

They help to control populations of algae and other organisms, and they are preyed upon by a wide range of predators, including fish, crabs, and sea stars.

So while they may be shocking to humans, sea slugs play an essential role in the complex web of life beneath the waves.

8. Labord’s Chameleon

Labord’s Chameleon
by jwdmeow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While most people are familiar with chameleons and their color-changing abilities, few are aware of the darker side of these creatures.

Specifically, Labord’s chameleon is one of the few animals that eat their mates as part of their reproductive process.

Male Labord’s chameleons have a spur-like projection on their hind legs, which they use to secure their mate during copulation. 

However, after the act is complete, the male often attacks and devours the female. This behavior is believed to be driven by a combination of hunger and competition from other males.

By consuming his mate, the male can ensure that no other males will mate with her and potentially produce offspring that could compete with his own genetic material.

While the idea of one animal consuming its partner may seem cruel or bizarre to humans, it’s important to remember that nature operates according to its own rules and survival instincts.

And for the Labord’s chameleon, consuming one’s mate is just one of the many strategies animals employ to propagate their species.

9. Bees

by wolfpix is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Bees are usually considered the epitome of teamwork and cooperation in the animal kingdom, but things can take a surprising turn during mating season.

Male bees, called drones, exist solely to mate with the queen bee.

However, after they perform their reproductive duties, they’re no longer needed and are expelled from the hive. 

In some cases, the female workers may even kill the drones themselves. This will likely conserve resources and maintain a healthy balance within the hive, as drones consume many resources and provide no other benefit.

So, while bees may not be as violent as some other animals on this list, their mating habits still exhibit surprising brutality.

10. Sagebrush Crickets

Sagebrush crickets may not be as well-known as other animals on this list, but they also exhibit cannibalistic behavior regarding mating.

Male sagebrush crickets will often sacrifice themselves by jumping into the mouths of their female counterparts during copulation.

The female will then consume the male’s body male’s valuable nutrients to develop her eggs. 

While this may seem gruesome, it is a natural part of their mating behavior.

It also ensures that only the most vigorous males can their genes, as they are the ones who take the risk and mate with the female—It’s anotherIt’smple of the strange and often brutal world of animals that eat their mates.


It’s no secrIt’shat the animal kingdom is filled with bizarre and shocking behaviors, and the phenomenon of animals that eat their mates is one of them.

From the notorious Black Widow spider to the sneaky Praying Mantis, these creatures have found ways to ensure their survival, even if it means consuming their partner after mating.

While it may seem gruesome to humans, it’s essential to remember that this behavior is a natural part of their instincts and evolution. 

And who knows, studying these animals can even offer insights into our behavior and relationships. Either way, the world of animals that eat their mates is not for the faint of heart!

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