Zebra: identikit of the most chic animal of the Savannah

Zebra: the complete identikit of the most chic animal of the Savannah

An animal that everyone knows is there zebra. It is a herbivorous perissodactyl mammal: exactly like the horse, it is part of the Equidae family and his own scientific name is Equus. There are four species and six subspecies, all characterized by a white coat with vertical black or reddish-brown streaks.

Among the striped animals, what immediately comes to mind, in addition to the tiger, is the zebra. But let’s find out more.

Scientific classification of the zebra

Source: Pixabay

This is the scientific classification of the zebra:

  • Dominio: Eukaryota
  • Kingdom: Animals
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Ordine: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Equidae
  • Race: Horse
  • Sottogenere: Hippotigris, Dolichohippus

The subspecies

There are currently several species and subspecies of zebras:

  • Equus quagga: and the steppe zebra. Several subspecies are recognized: Equus quagga boehmi, Grant’s zebra; Equus quagga borensis, the Selous zebra; Equus quagga burchellii, Burchell’s zebra; Equus quagga chapmani, Chapman’s zebra; Equus quagga crawshayi, Crawshay’s zebra; Equus quagga quagga (extinct), the quagga
  • Equus zebra: is therea zebra of the mountains of the Cape. There is the subspecies Equus hartmannae, Hartmann’s mountain zebra
  • Equus grevyi: and the Grevy’s zebra

Equus quagga

Steppe zebras
Source: Pixabay

Anatomical and physiological features

The lowland zebra or Equus quagga, also known as the common or Burchell’s zebra, is the most widespread species. It is found in Southern Ethiopia, Angola, eastern South Africa and eastern Africa. It is part of the subgenus Hippotigris. Currently it is not at risk of extinction.

And the smaller zebra species, with short legs and stocky body. The weight of the zebra of the plain it varies according to the subspecies and varies from 175 to 385 kg, with the males slightly larger. The height at the withers ranges from 110 to 145 cm, while the length from 217 to 246 cm.

The coat has the typical black and white striped coloring: the peculiarity is that there are no two zebras that have similar stripes. The muzzle is usually dark. THE cubs of zebras they are born already covered with white and brown stripes. The stripes are vertical on the front of the body, horizontal on the hind legs. Northern lowland zebras tend to have thinner, more defined stripes. Southern lowland zebras have fewer stripes on their legs and lower body parts. They also have shadow-stripes: they are brown areas within the white areas.

Reproduction of the zebra

It stallone dell’harem it mates with all mares of his harem. The duration of a zebra’s pregnancy is 12-13 months. The foal is breastfed for a year. Stallions do not like the foals of other harems very much and do not hesitate to practice infanticide, especially if in captivity. Just like horses, newborn foals are able to stand up straight away.


The lowland zebras are social animals. They tend to live in small groups called family harems, consisting of a stallion, several mares and foals. Males remain at the head of the harem for years, but there are also groups of males only hierarchically led by the older male. Once they reach the right age, these males leave to form their own harem. Sometimes different harems come together in larger groups.

Then there is the figure of alpha female, the only one who can lead the group. Females do not usually welcome the entry of new mares, while stallions defend their harem from other males. Social interactions are reinforced with grooming, that is, mutual cleaning.

For what concern verse of the zebra, lowland zebras can make up to six different calls. To protect themselves from predators at night, lowland zebras congregate in open spaces. A specimen stands on the lookout, warning the others with snorts of the arrival of a predator. Thanks to eyes placed on the sides of the head, like all equids, they have a wide visual capacity.

If attacked by hyenas or wild dogs, they remain united to defend the group and the stallion charges the attackers to chase them away. Females do it too, but only to defend the young. If lions attack them, they try to escape: over long distances, lions are not resistant. Leopards and cheetahs, on the other hand, tend to attack especially the young.

Equus zebra

Zebra hartmann
Source: Pixabay

Anatomical and physiological features

The mountain zebra or Equus zebra it’s kind of endangered zebra (it is classified as vulnerable). It is native to southwestern Angola, South Africa and Namibia. It has two subspecies: the Cape zebra and Hartmann’s zebra.

Like all zebras, the body alternates between different black and white / dark brown stripes for each individual. The abdomen is white and has a giogaia. The weight ranges from 240 to 372 kg, while the height at the withers is 1-1.4 meters and the length of 2.2 meters. In Cape zebras, females are larger than males, while in Hartmann’s zebras it is the opposite. Additionally, Cape zebras have thin black stripes and wide white spaces, while Cape zebras have wide black stripes and small white spaces.

Mountain zebras live in hilly and mountainous, arid and rocky areas. The zones of the two mountain zebras do not overlap.

Reproduction of the zebra

Mountain zebras also live in chicks family harems formed by a stallion, some mare and foals. Bachelor males form separate groups. Furthermore, the different harems never unite like those of the lowland zebras.

The duration of pregnancy is 12 months. The mare takes care of the foal for a year: then the foal will have to go into bachelor groups or form a harem.

Equus grevyi

Imperial zebras
Source: Pixabay

Anatomical and physiological features

The Grevy’s zebra or Equus grevyi, also known as imperial, it lives in northern Kenya and Ethiopia, while it is extinct in Somalia. In appearance, apart from the black and white lines, it resembles a mule rather than a horse.

And the biggest zebra of all: males weigh between 380 and 450 kg, while females weigh between 350 and 400 kg. The height at the withers is 1.25-1.5 meters, while it is 2.5-3 meters long with a 28-75 cm long tail. It has the longest ears of all zebras and the closest streaks.

It is an endangered species.

Why do zebras have stripes?

The basic skin color of the zebra it is black, while the white stripes appear later in the embryonic life. But what are the zebra stripes for? Several hypotheses have been made:

  • mimicry in tall grass, especially in shady areas (not very credible: zebras are noisy animals and are not able to go unnoticed silently)
  • confuse predators as to their true size
  • confuse predators when chasing, especially when forming herds
  • social recognition function
  • regulate body temperature
  • defense from tsetse flies and from insects

What does the zebra eat?

the zebras are herbivorous animals. Their diet consists for the vast majority of grasses, followed by herbaceous plants and a few shrubs. Unlike other Savannah ungulates, they graze on everything, even if they prefer sprouts. They have a simple stomach, but they use the cecum-colon to be able to eat as much fodder as possible. They constantly move to graze and sometimes form groups with the wildebeest.

Mountain zebras do not disdain bark, fruit and roots as well.

I am prey of lions, hyenas, crocodiles, cheetahs, leopards and wild dogs. If attacked, it defends itself with bites and kicks.

Where does the zebra live?

Source: Pixabay

The most common zebra is the steppe zebra, the Equus quagga. Of its subspecies, the quagga is now extinct, while the other five are found in eastern and southern Africa. The mountain zebra, Equus zebra, is most common in South Africa and is at risk of extinction.

The Grevy’s zebra, Equus grevyi, is the largest species of all and lives in the semi-desert areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. This too is at risk of extinction.

Curiosities about zebras

Here are some small ones curiosity about zebras:

  • Two zebras are featured on the Botswana coat of arms
  • African peoples consider zebras as a symbol of beauty
  • The zebra is the animal associated with the team of the Juventus because of the colors
  • In the animated films of Madagascar, one of the protagonists is Marty the zebra

The zebra, an animal to be protected

Although not all subspecies of zebras are at risk of extinction, even the plains zebra it could become more vulnerable in the near future, either due to poaching, or due to the reduction of its habitat due to human expansion. For this reason, several projects have been born aimed at protecting zebras, to prevent all subspecies from becoming extinct, as happened to quagga.

Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.

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