Not many people were too keen on the idea of going to the Night Safari, again. I never see anything, they complained. But since Bruce was in town, I thought it might be a fun trip out. That, and I really enjoy the Night Safari. Heh. I actually see quite a bit whenever I go: mating leopards; mating tigers; a cheetah who burst out of nowhere and slammed into the glass window – my face was literally just inches away; a peeing bat not two meters from us.
Ruoxi came out with us this time, since she hadn’t been in years. It was a blast. We took our time wandering around the exhibits, peering carefully through the leaves and shrubs to spot the animals other tourists breezed by: we let a huge group of tourists go by us; at the tiger display, they just streamed right by without stopping once the folks in the front of the group declared that they couldn’t see anything. Well, duh.
We saw a ton that night. One of the highlights were two spotted hyenas making out. Heh. Another was walking through the bat enclosure, to see gigantic fruit bats (wingspan at least 1.2 m) lazily hanging upside down while munching on papaya and bananas. But I was particularly thrilled with the flying squirrel enclosure, which was housed in a huge netted tent that we could walk through. There were several flying squirrels perched on a branch in front of us, but Bruce also spotted one that was steadily making its way up the pole in the center of the tent. I watched it ascend the 20 meter high pole, where it suddenly launch itself off the pole, limbs spread out to form a tent. It was so graceful – whereas we were shrieking in surprise – landing in the clump of bushes right in front of us.
And oh, to Bruce’s question of how porcupines mate:
… one account of porcupine romance (in North American Porcupine, Uldis Roze, 1989) does begin this way: “Somewhere ahead, a porcupine is screaming.” However, it’s not what you think. The screaming porcupine is a female letting an ardent male know she’s not in the mood. Male porcupines may give vent to the occasional scream as well, but it’s from frustration, not pain: the female is only sexually receptive 8-12 hours per year.
Porcupine sex is not the exercise in S&M you might imagine but it does have its kinky aspects. I quote from Roze: “Perhaps the strangest aspect of the interaction is male urine-hosing of the female. The male approaches on his hind legs and tail, grunting in a low tone. His penis springs erect. He then becomes a urine cannon, squirting high-pressure jets of urine at the female. Everything suggests the urine is fired by ejaculation, not released by normal bladder pressure…. In less than a minute, a female may be thoroughly wetted from nose to tail.”
So much for foreplay. If the female decides now is the time, she hoists up her rump a bit and raises her tail, the underside of which is quill-less, and curves it up over her back, covering the quills thereon and exposing her genitalia. The male then approaches in a gingerly manner from the rear, walking on his hind legs and taking care to touch nothing with his forepaws but the safe part of the tail. The relevant apparatus having been lined up, docking occurs, followed by “violent orgasm” as the male unloads a year’s worth of jism. The act lasts 2-5 minutes and may be repeated several times during the half-day window of opportunity.
All in all it makes me think my first time during college maybe wasn’t so bad. But the porcupines probably like it just fine, Ms. Porcupine especially. As our author notes, “the female cannot be raped.” If she doesn’t like the looks of one of her suitors, a swipe with her tail will cool his ardor fast.
It is also worth noting that the tip of the porcupine penis is covered with small spines or bumps, something humans can duplicate only through the use of certain exotic brands of prophylactic. “Undoubtedly the structures add something to the female’s sensation during coitus,” it says here, “but it is not known whether they help induce orgasm.” Maybe not. But I find it interesting that once things get rolling the female is insatiable and will mate until the male is sexually exhausted.
And as for Ruoxi’s question of how giraffes mate, the answer can be found here at eHow. Seems like both porcupines and giraffes share a common interest in pee.