TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While “ghosting” is common in getting out of an unwanted relationship for humans, female frogs will fake their own death in order to avoid mating advances from male frogs, according to a recent study.
Researchers discovered that female frogs escape males by rotating their bodies, releasing calls, and faking their death, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
“During these mating events, several males cling to a female, which are mostly unable to get rid of the unwanted males,” authors of the study wrote.
This clinging is often aggressive, which can actually lead to the female’s death if she is unable to get rid of the males.
Faking their own death, also known as tonic immobility, is mainly interpreted as a defensive strategy against predators, the study noted. However, it is also used as a stress response to an immediate threat.
Tonic immobility is a widely used tactic among different species to avoid mating, reproductive cannibalism, and male harassment. This is more common in smaller and younger female frogs.
It was also found that smaller female frogs will use all three tactics and have higher escape probabilities than bigger female frogs.
Stress could trigger tonic immobility, which may be “a better option for a female than fighting her way out of the amplexus,” the findings showed.
Researchers said even in aggressive mating situations, female frogs are less helpless than what was previously assumed.