Zebra

Zebra Facts
Size Up to 4.5 ft (1.4 m) (shoulder height)
Speed Up to 24.8 mph (40 km/h)
Weight Up to 881 lb (400 kg)
Lifespan 20 - 30 years
Food Plants
Predators Lions, hyenas, leopards
Habitat Tropical Africa
Order Odd-toed ungulates
Family Horses
Scientific name Equus grevyi, zebra and quagga
Characteristics Striped horse

Zebras belong to the family of horses. There are three different types: Grevy’s zebra, the mountain zebra and the common zebra.

Mountain zebras are closely related to the African wild ass, common zebras and Grevy’s zebra to the Asian wild ass.

Do Zebra Species Have Different Stripes?
Zebra Stripes
Mountain zebra Broad stripes
Grevy’s zebra Narrow stripes
Plains zebra Stripes of varying width

Zebra Zebra - Photo: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock

Black Stripes on a White Coat or White Stripes on a Black Coat?

This question was long unanswered. Most zebras have black stripes ending at the belly and near the inner side of their legs. All other parts of the coat are white.

Yet, some zebras are mainly black with white stripes. By the way, the skin under their coat is black.

Striping Patterns are Unique

Do zebras all look the same? No! Even if you might not perceive it at first sight: Each zebra has an individual striping pattern. The stripes and the smell help them to recognize their friends.

Zebra Zebra - Photo: Natalie Shuttleworth/Shutterstock

Confusing stripes

It might seem that the zebra was not very clever when choosing its colors. The combination of black and white can be easily perceived even at long distances.

Nevertheless, the stripes serve the zebra as a camouflage. >When herds of zebras are standing together and the air is hazy from the heat, the silhouettes of the individual animals are no longer clearly recognizable.

This confuses the (colorblind) lion: “Where is the head, where is the leg, how many animals are there? Damn!”

Zebra Zebra - Photo: MattiaATH/Shutterstock

Tse, tse! You Can Count Me Out!

Another theory on the flashy stripes says that they might protect the animal from tsetse flies. The infamous transmitters of sleeping sickness have enormous problems to perceive a zebra with their compound eyes. Lucky zebra!

Help Against the Heat

Scientists have now discovered that the strips also help to make the heat more bearable.

Zebra Zebra - Photo: matthieu Gallet/Shutterstock


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