Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Zebras Horses and Asses: Equidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Grevy's Zebra (equus Grevyi): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, EQUIDS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

Zebras Horses and Asses: Equidae - Behavior And Reproduction

equids stripes age foal

Equids are social mammals and form groups in which individual needs for feeding, reproduction, and survival are met. Females form especially strong bonds and maintain stable communities even without the presence of a territorial male. Usually, one male heads a group and mates with several of the females. He spends a good deal of his time defending the group against "bachelor" or roaming males who might try to mate with the females. Offspring also live with the group, usually until the age of two or three years.

Groups are in the best interests of equids as they provide greater defense against predators, animals that hunt them for food, like the lion. When in herds, it is more difficult for lions to determine which zebra or horse is young, weak, or lame. When threatened, equids will run away rather than fight, but if forced to fight, they'll kick with their hind feet and bite.

Equids communicate through vocalizations but also by changing the position of their tails, ears, and mouths.

The mating system varies, depending on environmental conditions. Pregnancy lasts from eleven to twelve months and usually results in the birth of one foal. And although equids are capable of producing one foal each year, it is more likely that a foal will be born every other year if nutritional food is readily available. Wild equids are ready to breed at the age of one or two years but don't normally produce a foal until the age of three to five. There is not enough data to determine how long wild equids live. Experts estimate that 90 percent of female plains zebras die by the age of sixteen years. Their main predators are the lion and hyena.

WHY ZEBRAS NEED STRIPES

Although humans think a zebra's stripes make the horse easy to find and identify, the stripes actually act as camouflage (KAM-uh-flaj). The wavy lines of a zebra blend in with the wavy-line patterns found in nature, such as blowing grasses among which the zebra lives. The fact that zebra stripes are black and white while the lines of grass are yellowish green and brown doesn't matter. The zebra's primary predator, the lion, is colorblind!

Those stripes serve another purpose, which is to help zebras identify and recognize each other. Stripes are to a zebra as fingerprints are to humans: no two are identical. Scientists believe this is how zebras identify one another in a herd. It's how mothers and babies recognize each other, and how a zebra knows which herd it belongs to.

Zebras Horses and Asses: Equidae - Grevy's Zebra (equus Grevyi): Species Accounts [next] [back] Zebras Horses and Asses: Equidae - Physical Characteristics

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about 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

See a better possible explanation why zebras have stripes here:

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/215/5/736.abstract?sid=b2c66072-a879-428d-a25b-ea8882353cf4