Animals That Eat Their Partners After Mating

Some animals, usually the female, cannibalizes (eats) all or parts of its male mate prior to, during, or after mating/sexual intercourse. This phenomenon is called sexual cannibalism.

Food and mating are core necessities for all creatures on Earth. From tiny microorganisms to the largest animals, every species aims to avoid hunger and ensure the continuation of their lineage. While most animals have unique ways to hunt for food and attract mates, some have combined these two needs in a startling natural phenomenon known as sexual cannibalism.


What is Sexual Cannibalism?


Sexual cannibalism is when an animal, usually the female, eats all or parts of its male partner before, during, or after mating. This behavior, although shocking, fascinates scientists. They believe females engage in this practice to gain extra nutrition and energy, which can be passed on to their offspring. Studies show that females who eat their male partners produce better and more eggs. For males, the ultimate benefit is the opportunity to reproduce, spreading their genes even though they often pay with their lives.


Animals That Practice Sexual Cannibalism


Praying Mantis

Female praying mantises are larger and heavier than males. After or even during mating, the female bites off the head of her partner. Interestingly, the male can continue to mate even after losing his head.



Many octopus species are involved in sexual cannibalism. If the male octopus is smaller or agitates the female during mating, she may strangle him with her tentacles and feed on his body. To avoid this fate, males often mate from a distance.


Sagebrush Crickets

Female sagebrush crickets start feeding on their partners during mating, eating the male’s wings and drinking the juices that ooze out. Some males survive and mate again, but without wings, they are less attractive to females.



Female anacondas sometimes squeeze the male to death and swallow his body to get the necessary protein and nutrition for their seven-month pregnancy. The male anaconda does not even try to escape.


Labord’s Chameleon

Labord’s chameleons have a short lifespan and a fierce nature. Males and females often fight during mating, and if the male dies, the female eats him. After laying eggs, the female also dies, leading to the entire population disappearing after the mating season, represented only by eggs.



Many spider species, including orb weavers, black widows, and jumping spiders, practice sexual cannibalism. Females are usually much bigger than males. Males try to catapult themselves away after mating to avoid being eaten. Sometimes, they seek out already-fed females to protect themselves.


Thank goodness, the concept of sexual cannibalism doesn’t exist in humans (wink). Which of these animals did you not expect to be on the list? Tell us in the comments below.