They are small, mice-like critters known for their marathon mating sessions, which can last up to 14 hours. And that may be their undoing. The Australian government has added two species of antechinus, the black-tailed dusky and the silver-headed, to its endangered species list, saying all that sex is killing them.
During mating season, which lasts for several weeks each year, males and females move frantically from one mate to another. There's no courtship, just sex -- with as many partners as possible. To some dudes, this might sound like a dream. But it's all so exhausting for the males that they typically die four or five days after the breeding season ends, according to Andrew Baker, head of a research team that has discovered five new species of antechinus since 2012.
Baker explains that while both males and females get stressed, only the males produce testosterone. The constant high levels of testosterone keep the stress hormone, cortisol, from shutting off. Eventually, it reaches toxic levels and causes the animal's immune system to malfunction. The animal then bleeds internally and dies.
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