List of Monogamous Mammals

marmoset lovers. image by Timothy Lubcke from

Monogamy is a trait that has fascinated many scientists. The idea of two members of the same species choosing one another for life is a complex subject and seemingly unlikely for most living things. There are, however, several mammals, aside from humans, that do, in fact, appear to engage in their own forms of monogamy.


Marmosets are primates classified as "new world monkeys." Compared with the typical chimpanzee or even spider monkey, these mammals are minuscule. The average marmoset is only eight inches in height and can be found wrapped around small branches. These monkeys often live in monogamy with one another. Although it's difficult to understand the exact reasoning behind this behaviour, many observers connect it to the fact that marmosets usually travel in packs of fewer than 15, meaning they have a lower number of options for mates.


Perhaps the most commonly known and seen monogamous mammal--in the United States, at least -- is the beaver. These mammals are categorised as "rodents," yet they are by far the largest of this category, sometimes weighing as much as 36.3 Kilogram. Aside from being disciplined workers, building dams and such, beavers seem to put an emphasis on family. Not only do scientists believe these mammals to be monogamous, but it is clear that they are also attentive parents, who will look after their young for as long as two years before allowing them to fend for themselves.


The gibbon is another primate that has been shown to often prefer a monogamous lifestyle. These large monkeys can usually be found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, in countries such as China and Indonesia. Scientists who have studied the gibbon have noticed that the female of the species is highly aggressive and not one to sit back and allow her male counterpart pursue other mates. This indicates that reasons for monogamy may not be the same for all species.


Bats are an often forgotten mammal. Because of their large wings and quick speed through the air, it would be easy to list them in the avian category; but not only are bats mammals, they are also among the few that show tendencies toward monogamy. This does not include all species, but only the Hipposideros galeritus, Nycteris hispida, Vampyrum spectrum and a few others. With these types of bats, the female plays the role of homemaker and nurturer of the young, while the male hunts for food and protects their nest.

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