Ah, the African Ground Squirrel. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve been lying awake in bed, unable to sleep with one question endlessly running through my head:
“If an African ground squirrel is kind of promiscuous, does he still masturbate? If so, why?”
Don’t act like you haven’t been there, too. Lucky for both of us, the University of Central Florida’s Jane Waterman has done some research to answer the question.
Quick answers, for those of you who just want to hurry up and finally be able to sleep:
Yes, male African ground squirrels DO masturbate, even more if they are of the dominant group of males that have sex more frequently. But WHY? How will you sleep without knowing why?
Waterman’s research says suggests that the masturbation has nothing to do with being a sexual outlet for male squirrels that don’t get as much sex. Instead, it appears that the masturbation serves as a grooming tool. Since female squirrels can have sex with around 10 males in a three-hour period, the males’ genitals need to be groomed to help keep sexually-transmitted infections under control. Since sexually-transmitted infections can affect fertility, it may make sense that males have an instinctual need to do something to keep infection rates under control.
Then again, maybe the male squirrels are just having a good time. Or trying to get some sleep.