Field of Science

TMI Friday: Quail in fear of fetishes !

The the Japanese quail is a plump and fluffy little creature. Some would say it is adorable, with its round physique and small stature. But this creature hides a dark and dirty secret. It is one of the few animals that can develop a sexual fetish.
Photo of a perfectly normal quail by Ingrid Taylar
The quails deviancy is one of the traits that has made it a target of great interest for scientists studying sexual fetishes.
To give a male quail a specific fetish, the researchers condition them from a young age. Usually, they do this by controlling the adolescent males first interaction with a female. For example, in one experiment, they would expose the males to a sexually receptive female alongside another female that had been artificially adorned with bright orange feathers. Males that were exposed in this way tend to be more likely to copulate with a female with bright orange feathers then males who had not been given this stimulus.
But hold on, it gets even more freaky.
The researchers repeated this experiment once more. This time, they used a slightly different stimulus than before. This time, they conditioned the quails not with a colourfully adorned female quail. This time they used a yellow pound puppy toy. They positioned the toy to mimic the posture of a female quail, and introduced it alongside a sexually receptive female quail. Although the Quails did not wantonly take advantage of the helpless stuffed animal, the researchers found that they were more likely to copulate with a female quail when this stuff toy was present.
Think about that next time your paramour demands that their favourite stuffed toy needs to be present when you "make whoopy" , you may be getting an insight into their earliest sexual experiences. If thay happen to be a quail, that is.

 Domjan M., O'Vary D. & Greene P. (1988). Conditioning of appetitive and consummatory sexual behavior in male Japanese quail., Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 50 (3) 505-519. DOI:

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