According to new Australian research, endangered male northern quolls are foregoing sleep in order to have more sex, which may be killing them.
The study discovered that males travel long distances in search of mating partners, frequently sacrificing sleep in the process.
According to experts, a lack of rest may explain why male carnivorous marsupials typically mate themselves to death in a single breeding season.
Females, on the other hand, have the ability to live and reproduce for up to four years.
“They travel long distances to mate as frequently as possible,” said Christofer Clemente, senior lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The study was co-led by his institution and The University of Queensland. The study was released on Wednesday.
Researchers spent 42 days collecting data on wild roaming male and female northern quolls on Groote Eylandt, an island off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territory.
According to the study, some of the quolls they studied walked more than 10km in one night, which translates to nearly 40km in human distance based on average stride length. Males of the species appeared to attract more parasites as well. The most likely explanation is that they devote less time to grooming in order to make the most of each breeding season. Males, according to the researchers, are not as vigilant as females when looking for food or avoiding predators.
“Sleep deprivation and associated symptoms for an extended period of time would make recuperation impossible and could explain the causes of death recorded in males after breeding season,” said lead author Joshua Gaschk. “They become easy prey, are unable to avoid collisions with vehicles, or simply die from exhaustion.”