Zebras are an interesting animal that can be quickly recognized by their black and white striped patterning. These animals are only found in Africa, excluding zoos, but are well known around the world. Despite being such a commonly known animal, not everyone knows exactly what these hoofed creatures eat. So in this article we answer the question, what do zebras eat?
What Do Zebras Eat?
Zebras mostly feed on grass because they are herbivores, but will also eat leaves and stems. They can eat other plants they come across, but prefer to graze on grass. Similar to cows, zebras regurgitate grass to chew on, which is called cud.
Every type of zebra found in Africa will have a similar diet. These animals mostly graze on grass, and even chew on cud, but they can eat other types of plants as well.
Zebras will sometimes feed on shrubbery, leaves, or tree bark. The zebras found in zoos will have a different diet, but it still includes grass. Captive zebras can also be fed hay, carrots, and alfalfa.
More About Zebras
One of the most common animals associated with Africa is the zebra, but there is more than one subspecies. They resemble horses, with black and white markings.
This coloring has even led to an age-old argument about if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes. Zebras have thick hooves that are useful in kicking at predators when they are attacked. Their ears are full of thick hair to keep them free of dust and sand.
There are three types of zebras found in Africa, the mountain zebra, plains zebra, and Grevy’s zebra. These animals are part of the horse family, called equids, and they travel and live in herds.
There will be a lead male called a stallion, and the stallion will protect the rest of the herd from predators. The subspecies of Zebras will be found in different African regions because they thrive in different types of environments.
They also vary in size, with the Grevy’s being the largest type of zebra. They can reach 990 pounds and have the thinnest stripes of any type of Zebra.
Zebras are only found in Africa, with the exception of zoos, but different types of zebras thrive in different habitats. Mountain zebras will be found in the rocky and mountainous terrain of Angola and Namibia.
The Grevy’s zebra is found in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia in the grasslands. Plains zebras are the most zebra species found in Africa, and can be found from the southern to eastern regions of the continent. Grant’s zebra is a subspecies of the plains, and these are known for the massive herds they are migrating in.
Zebras are nomadic animals and will spend most of their time traveling. They do this to graze through grasslands and find water sources. The Grant’s zebra can be seen migrating during the Serengeti’s rainy season. These migrating herds can get huge, and up to ten thousand of these animals have been seen migrating together.
Since zebras are social animals they will be found living together in herds. These herds will usually consist of a stallion, plus some mares and their offspring. Mares usually leave this herd when their young or old enough.
These animals use sounds of facial expression to communicate with each other, and if the stallion senses danger he will let out a loud noise to warn the rest of the herd.
The ears of these animals are also a key way they communicate with each other. Zebras will also use their teeth to scratch other zebras or help clean them. Mares will spend a lot of time with their young until the baby zebras are old enough to live independently.
Threats Zebras Face
While zebras have to deal with plenty of other animals as predators, they are also threatened by poachers. The Grevy’s zebra is endangered while the mountain zebra is threatened.
Common Predators of Zebras
While zebras can be found across various regions of Africa, so are plenty of animals that hunt them. Even though zebras have strong legs and hooves for protection, this can’t always keep them safe.
The most common predators of zebras are:
- African wild dogs
The stripes of zebras is actually a defense mechanism. When a herd of zebras is together, the stripes can make it hard for a predator to focus on just one zebra.
Domestic horses are often kept as pets, but even though zebras are in the horse family they should not be kept as pets. They can’t be domesticated, but can often be seen in zoos or wildlife conservations. These animals are often hunted for pelts and meat, or killed to keep from eating grass for domesticated livestock animals.
A Couple of Facts About Zebras
There are numerous fun facts to learn about the zebras found in Africa, here are just a couple.
Zebras Sleep Standing Up
Zebras sleep standing up like other animals that are Equidae. These types of animals can’t lay down for too long or they crush their own organs.
They Have a Natural Insect Repellent
The stripes on zebras have been found to disorient horseflies and similar bugs, giving these unique animals a natural insect repellent.