Monogamous Animals and “Divorce” – Implications for Humans

We like to think we have a monopoly on romance. In reality, animal relationships are far more complicated than we assume. Sure, most animals choose multiple partners, often concurrently. Others mate for life. Some remain together for years before suffering separations nearly as complicated as human divorce. Read on to learn about divorce in the animal world, and its implications for our own messy proceedings.


Giant tortoises can live over 150 years — it only stands to reason that they might feel the 7 (or 70) year itch. While they technically mate for life, squabbles can compromise these relationships. Such was the case at Austria's Reptilian Zoo Happ, where the world's longest married tortoise couple suffered a prompt end to decades of domestic bliss. The female (Bibi) began attacking the male (Poldi) for reasons unknown. Temporary separation didn't solve the problem, nor did efforts to make Bibi jealous by introducing another female.


Gorgeous and majestic, swans paint the perfect picture of wedded bliss. Most mate for life, but some cheat or even “divorce.” Researchers estimate a divorce rate of approximately 4% among mute swans in Poland. These separations can severely hamper their health, however; “divorced” females eat less while separated, and swans of both sexes fare worse in aggressive encounters if they lack a lifelong partner.


Voles are unique in that they not only prefer monogamy, but they will outright attack members of the opposite sex happening to approach. Most mate for life upon losing their virginity; a select few, however, abandon their faithful partner. One bizarre study suggests this can occur when alcohol enters the picture. That's right; if voles drink too much alcohol, they're more likely to “divorce.” Oregon Health and Science University's Andre T. Walcott discovered this while attempting to determine the role of alcohol in human divorce. A control group of voles received water, while one group allowed males to imbibe and another encouraged drinking in both sexes. Ultimately, the voles who drank alone were less likely to spend time with their lifelong partner than voles who drank together or not at all.

Like other monogamous animals, you aren't guaranteed a happily ever after. Unlike these animals, however, you can work with a trusted legal representative. DiPietro Law Group, PLLC provides compassionate legal support in Maryland. Get in touch today to learn more.
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