Adorable critter gets cannibalized after sex in first-ever pic of the bizarre mating ritual

Die hard, indeed.

These lecherous little critters literally go out with a bang. Meet the Australian antechinus, a promiscuous marsupial known for its killer sex protocol — and then being cannibalized so the others can resume romping.

Their “Hannibal”-esque hanky panky habits were outlined recently in the journal Australian Mammalogy.

Zoologists published the first-ever photo of a male feasting on a fellow of his species, taken in August 2023 at Point Lookout in New England National Park, a haven for these suicidal sex machines.

“While cannibalistic behavior has been reported in some dasyurids [their marsupial family], it is very rare to observe in the wild,” Associate Professor Andrew Baker from Queensland University of Technology told South West New Service.

During their one to three-week mating period, these shrew-sized marsupials go at it Down Under in “frenzied bouts lasting as long as 14 hours,” researchers wrote, after which all the males will inevitably perish.

“Certain stress-induced death follows for all males as surging testosterone causes cortisol to flood uncontrolled through the body, reaching pathological levels,” said Baker while describing these fatal breeding frenzies.

Thankfully, the bodies of the deceased antechinus don’t go to waste but rather fuel the carnal congregation like a post-mortem power bar.

“The males drop dead, which provides an opportunity for cheap energy gain via cannibalism for still-living males and pregnant or lactating female antechinuses,” said Baker. “For the later-breeding species, both sexes may take the opportunity to cannibalize dead males of the earlier-breeding species, to help stack on weight and condition before their own breeding period commences.”

In other words, they die so others can love in a salacious circle of life.

Researchers identified both eaters and those eaten in the aforementioned photo as mainland dusky antechinuses based on their body size, foreclaw length, ears and eyes, fur color and shagginess.

They postulated that the eater, which they believed to also be male (although females also practice cannibalism), would soon suffer the same fate because it exhibited symptoms of eventual demise.

“The antechinus seen feeding on its dead comrade appeared vigorous and large-bodied, but it had damage to its right eye and hair loss on its arms and shoulders, which is associated with stress-induced decline in males,” said Baker. “He was perhaps destined soon to become somebody else’s meal.”

Speaking of suicidal sexploits, male honeybees literally ejaculated themselves to death in 2022 after going into shock due to a Canadian heatwave.