Reproduction in Stingrays varies amongst the different types of stingrays. However, the norm is that age 1, stingrays are mature enough to mate. The male stingray will follow a female and attach himself to her disc. This way he can insert his clasper into her cloaca.
Some males of certain species are able to sense when a female is ready to mate by sensing electrical signals that the female will give off. The male then courts the female. Some species form large social groups before they begin courting.
Interestingly, Stingrays have an extremely long mating period. It can be 7 months before the females are ready to ovulate in March. Throughout this time, male stingrays undergo heightened levels of androgen hormones which has been linked to its prolonged mating periods.
Development of Young
The young develop within the mother’s body. Stingrays do not lay eggs. When the time is right, the female stingray will give birth to live young through a reproductive process known as ovoviviparity.
While inside the mother’s absorb nutrients from a yolk-sac. This is because there is no placenta. Once the sac is no longer able to provide the required nutrition they then feed off the mother’s uterine milk.
A female stingray can give birth to a litter of up to 13 baby stingrays (known as pups). However, if it is a first-time pregnancy chance is that there will only be one baby ray. Luckily, stingrays are able to breed more than once in their lifetime. The young look like mini versions of the adults and they are able to swim once they unfold their fins after birth.
Care of Young
After birth, the female stingrays typically protect their young until they mature. A stingray can take up to 3 years until they are fully matured. During this time, the baby stingrays learn how to bury themselves in the sand to hide and how to eat. The pups also know how to use their stingers from birth. Male stingrays do not help with caring for the young.