Do animals go through puberty?

It seems puberty, in some form or another, is a shared and necessary evil across the whole animal kingdom.

13th June 2018
Do animals go through puberty? © Getty

Asked by: Ben Chelski, Colchester

Puberty is the process we go through to become reproductively functional. It is characterised by the physical, chemical and sometimes social changes that occur during sexual maturity. Some animals, like the Cabrera’s hutia (a rodent that lives in Cuba), reach this point when they get to an exact weight of 360g for females, or 300g for males.

But for most other animals, the timing of puberty is age-related. Insects and amphibians experience ‘metamorphosis’, going through two or more distinct stages of their development to move from hatching or birth to adulthood. Meanwhile, some aphid and mite species speed things up by being born pregnant, hatching with the next generation of eggs already growing inside them – how weird is that!

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