Do Animals Masturbate? Experts Explain Why Non-Human Species Do This Non-Reproductive Behavior

Do animals masturbate? Animal masturbation may seem bizarre to us, but it is a reality that shows humans are not the only ones in kingdom Animalia capable of the self-pleasuring act.

Non-human species such as mammals have been scientifically observed to engage in non-reproductive behavior, which involves the stimulation of the genitals for sexual pleasure.

Copulation or sexual intercourse is conducted by animals both for reproduction and sexual pleasure. However, the evidence that animals masturbate as well has become a subject of contestation and debate within the scientific community. For instance, a report earlier this year revealed that scientists continue to search the evolutionary origins of masturbation across the animal kingdom.

Do Animals Masturbate?

Animals Masturbate

(Photo : Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

There is a wide scientific consensus that animals masturbate as well, and this behavior is evident for many mammals both for males and females, according to the virtual organization CARTA.

In previous scientific observations, researchers found that a myriad of animals, including cats, dogs, dolphins, lizards, turtles, and monkeys, also masturbate.

Now that we know animals engage in genital-stimulating behavior, experts explain why non-human species possess this behavior; the answer lies in evolution.

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Mate Selection Evolution

All living organisms on Earth today are a product of the evolution their ancestors underwent for millions of years. Both morphological and behavioral attributes that animals possess now evolved from the need to survive and populate in the past. In the case of masturbation, although it is different yet related to sexual intercourse, there could also be a reason why masturbation is part of natural evolution.

Among these evolutionary traits include strategies and behaviors surrounding mate selection and sexual intercourse among animals, especially mammals. This mate selection process is evident as evolutionary biologists believe that the careful selection of a mating partner can lead to better offspring, in terms of genetics.

Previous studies have also found this is also the case in the history of human evolution.

Why Many Animals Evolved to Masturbate

Amid the myriad of evidence about the evolution of copulation between male and female animals, there is no clear indication that would suggest that animal masturbation is an evolutionary coincidence rather than a necessity. However, experts have an explanation as to why many animals evolved to masturbate.

Dogs have been observed to engage in mounting and humping or rubbing against objects which is a clear indicator of masturbation, in addition to licking themselves, like cats do. The evidence for animal masturbation is sufficient despite research on the topic being scarce.

One of the clues that would answer the question of why many animals evolved to masturbate can be found in a 2010 study. This research paper was published in the journal PLOS ONE, where researchers found the benefit or adaptive function of masturbation among African ground squirrels.

The research findings suggest that masturbation through licking among the squirrels is a form of genital grooming. The non-reproductive behavior was not a response to sperm competition nor a sexual outlet among individuals who were not able to copulate.

Instead, the scientists involved in the study found that since saliva has anti-bacterial properties, it can reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, ejaculation can serve as an alternative to urination to clean the reproductive tracts.

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