Cannibalism

Cannibalism is when one species eats its own kind. For a long time we thought cannibalism in the animal kingdom happened only due to extreme conditions, such as a shortage of food. However, for many animals, cannibalism is a way of life. Over 1,500 species haven been known to regularly engage in cannibalism for a multitude of reasons.

Sexual Canibalism When a female eats her male partner during or after mating. There are many different theories as to why this happens. It is possible the female uses the nutrients from the male to help her have healthier offspring. Animals that practice sexual cannibalism include many arachnids and insects, such as:

Size Structured Canibalsim when a larger, powerful, or more mature member of the species, eats a smaller one. This can be important in growth and dynamics in species. Many vertebrate animals practice size structured cannibalism:

Filial Canibalism Is when adult animals eat their own offspring. They can do this if their offspring are weak or sickly, or to limit the time and energy they put into raising their offspring. Animals that practice filial cannibalism include:

Infanticide Is when an animal kills (and frequently eats) juvenile members of its same species. This often occurs if a new male takes over a group of females. Killing the offspring that are not his, allows his own future offspring to have a higher success rate of survival. Animals that practice infanticide include:

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