Zebras are one of the beautiful animals inhabiting African continent. Many people know them for their beautiful stripes and the never ending enigma about them being white with black stripes or black with white stripes. Here is some more information about these striped horses.
Where They Live?
Zebras inhabit the savannas of southeastern Africa. They like open scrub, open grassland and open woodlands environments. Occasionally, they may also inhabit heavier woodland areas, taller grasslands, or even hilly country and mountainous regions up to 4,400 meters in elevation. But, they avoid dense forests, deserts and wetland areas.
Zebras eat mostly grass and will travel up to 1,800 miles in search of food. Some zebras also eat leaves and twigs.
The patterns of zebra stripes are different for every family. In most populations the stripes extend to the belly where they meet. Stripes on the limbs are horizontal and narrower and continue until they reach the hooves. Facial stripes are ordered both vertically and horizontally creating beautiful patterns.
Zebras are polygynous animals, meaning that one male mates with a few females. Male-male fight doesn’t exist, but once male obtains a female, there exists a “gentleman’s agreement” between the males that this female has been taken and cannot be lured away. Since the competition doesn’t exist, females and males look generally the same with females being only slightly smaller than males.
Pregnancy and Offspring
Females pregnant with twins usually miscarry about 8 months into the pregnancy. While preparing to give birth, females separate from the rest of the herd to avoid predators. While giving birth, zebras and their offspring are very vulnerable to predation. Weaning is complete after 8 to 12 months, but females may lactate up to 15 months. Young reach independence from 1-3 years, when they leave their natal groups. They only have 1 offspring.
Zebras have several ways of communication with one another. Facial expressions like bared teeth or wide-open eyes, all mean something. They also snort, huff, bark or bray to get their point across. Even the position of their ears can signal their feelings or danger.
Each of zebra family has its own conservation status. According to “Red List of Threatened Species”, the Grevy’s zebra is endangered, the mountain zebra (Hartmann’s zebra) is considered vulnerable, while the plains zebra is not endangered.
- The stripe pattern of a zebra is unique, just as human fingerprint. Every zebra is striped differently, so individuals can be identified by their pattern.
- Because a lion, one of the zebra’s main predators can’t see colors, the pattern of the zebra’s stripes is more important than color for the zebra to blend with its surroundings. A mass of blended stripes from a big, moving group of zebras makes it very hard for the lion to plan an attack on any specific zebra.
- When being chased by a predator, zebras run in a zig-zag pattern to make it harder for the predator to run after them.
- Generally zebras don’t lie down but usually sleep standing up.