Zebra Facts For Kids | Zebra Diet, Habitat, Behavior, and Characteristics

Being a member of horse family zebra (Equidae) exhibits certain characteristics that are mostly common in donkeys and horses. Like a horse, zebra is a medium-sized herbivore displays slender legs and elongated heads. It is a single-hoofed ungulate largely built for speed and long-distance movement. Some of the zebra species are endangered while few are threatened.

Those living in Africa are sub-classified into three distinct species: the plains zebra (Equus burchelli), Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), and the mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra). No significant difference is observed between male and female although males are slightly greater in size.

Get ready for the most exciting zebra facts for kids including zebra habitat, diet, behavior, and its characteristics. Here is all what you want to know about zebra.

Zebra Facts For Kids

  • The narrow, long and black stripes makes zebra stand out and prominent in the Equidae family. Every zebra species has its own unique stripes and no other species are alike in their stripes.
  • These stripes allow them to hide in the bushes against potential predators such as lions and hyenas. Lions are color blind so these stripes are supposed to more effective against them.
  • Another hypothesis is that since zebras graze in large groups, all have seemingly similar stripes; it becomes difficult for predators to single out one individual among many.
  • The zebra’s height at the shoulder measures around 3.5 – 5 feet (1.1 – 1.5 meters).
  • The body-length of the plains zebra is 6 – 8.5 feet (2 – 2.6 meters) with an 18-inch (0.5 meter) long tail.
  • The males are 10% greater than the females. The average weight is 350 kg (770 pounds). The Gravy’s zebras are slightly greater in comparison to the mountain zebras.
  • Zebras cannot run as fast as horses do but they certainly have greater stamina which ultimately gives them an edge against predators. Zebras run in a zigzag manner thereby creating more difficulty for its predator; besides, when cornered it kicks off from the back or sometimes bite in self-defense.
  • They have good eyesight and are also believed to see in color. As most of other ungulates feature, zebras have eyes on their sides enabling them to have a broader view of the field.
  • While feeding, zebras continuously check out for any nearby threat against predators. They are deemed to be ‘Alert Feeders’ in terms of feeding.
  • Apart from seeing things, zebras also have an excellent hearing sense and have more rounded ears than horses. They can turn their ears in any direction.
  • Zebras, like other ungulates, are highly social. They live in groups called Herds. A group of zebras seldom stays together for more than limited months. When hyenas or wild dogs attack, the stallion attempts to ward them off while keeping foals in the middle of the herd.
  • Zebras and horses sleep standing up, but they only sleep when their counterparts are actively awake to warn them of predators.
  • They have a high-pitched whinnying or barks through which they usually communicate with each other. Some species like Grevy’s zebras often produces mulelike brays. The zebra’s ears play vital role in defining its mood; when they have erect ears, this shows that they are in congenial or friendly mood however, when ears are pushed forward this means that they are scared.
  • The Gravy’s zebras maintain territories as large as 10 to 15 km2.
  • Zebras regularly rub their heads and bodies against trees, termite mounds, rocks and other objects, and roll in the dust.
  • They may sleep as much as 7 hours in one day. During the hotter hours of midday they sleep standing up while at night they lie with legs gathered while keeping foals on their sides. Sometimes they go unnoticed of their predators while sleeping and eventually caught. Nevertheless, it is rare because one of the herd members is awake to react to alarm snorts.
  • Although several attempts have been made about keeping zebras as domesticated animals but all went in vain since zebras, unlike horses, have a tendency to panic in stress.
  • Zebras can be too aggressive at times or in time of stress they might feel panic or uncomfortable. They are often observed standing in pairs or looking over each other’s shoulder. This behavior allows them to swish flies off their counterpart’s faces.

Dig Deeper: Where Do Zebras Live

zebra facts for kids | zebra

Feeding Ecology and Diet

  • Zebras predominantly feed on grass, twigs, herbs, barks, buds, leaves, and shrubs. They have to rely on low-quality nutritional diet because their digestive system allows them to do so.
  • Zebra’s teeth are perfectly adapted for browsing through open grasslands; they have strong upper and lower incisors, and their high-crowned molars are large. The male zebras have spade-shaped canines employed in fighting.

How Long Do Zebras Live

The average life span of zebra is 25 years in the wild.

Types of Zebra – Zebra Species

Grevy’s Zebra

  • Grevy’s zebra is found in grassland, sub-desert, and plain areas of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The name ‘Grevy’ was given when the King of Ethiopia sent some zebras as a gift to the president of France, Jules Grevy.
  • Unfortunately, the Grevy’s zebra is classified as endangered species and is given legal protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITIES).

Dig Deeper: What Do Zebras Eat

  • Some of the most common causes of the population decline are extreme poaching and habitat loss and because of the fact that farming areas were expanded thereby reducing grazing areas of zebras.
  • Gravy zebras dwell in large numbers in the northern Kenya. The numbers are in thousands. However, no more than 300 Grevy’s zebras are bred in captivity. Grevy’s zebra shows long narrow head along with wide ears. They primarily graze on coarse grasses and sedges but will also consume some buds, fruits, bark, roots, and leaves.

Plains Zebra

  • Of all the zebra species, plains zebra is the most widespread throughout Africa and is also the most abundant among Africa’s large mammals. People often come across plains zebra in zoos and circuses.
  • They are found grazing on open grasslands of southern Africa as well as drier savannahs of east Africa in the wild. Depending on the seasonal changes, plains zebra travel in large herds of up to 10,000 individuals.
  • One of the subspecies of plains zebra is Grant’s zebra which is present almost everywhere in Africa. According to a rough estimate, there are around 300,000 Grant’s zebras remaining in the wild; 150,000 out of these inhabit Serengeti Plains alone.

Mountain Zebra

  • The mountain zebra is the third zebra species. It lives on the mountainous regions of the southwest Africa. Hartmann’s mountain zebra is a subspecies of mountain zebra which is listed as threatened species and is found in Namibia and Angola.
  • No more than 7,300 individuals are left in the wild while in captivity, 140 zebras are kept. Cape Mountain zebra, another subspecies, is almost extinct with no more than 400 animals remaining; half of them being preserved in the Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa.

Have you ever heared about Quaggas? It is an extinct specie of zebra. Read more about Quaggas Extinction

Do you want to know where to find zebra? Read this : Where Do Zebras Live

Why Do Zebras have Stripes? 

Scientists are not confident about their purpose but they believe these stripes are mainly for making zebras camouflage against potential predators.

Since lions and other cats typically at dawn or dusk when there is not enough light, sometimes it becomes hard for them to prey zebras because of these stripes. Another hypothesis is that stripes enable zebras to recognize each other as each species has a unique pattern of stripes.

A point to ponder: Do zebras have black stripes on white skin or white stripes on black skin? What do you think about this? Please comment below.

Reproductive Biology

  1. The gestation period lasts for one year.
  2. The estrus cycle of zebra lasts for 5 – 10 days.
  3. Males are sometimes become violent during the courtship.
  4. The foals weigh around 55 pounds at birth. The zebras become mature at the age of 5 – 6 years.

Zebra is an African animals. Here are some African Animals For Kids

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One response to “Zebra Facts For Kids | Zebra Diet, Habitat, Behavior, and Characteristics”

  1. I believe that zebras have white skin with black stripes because when they are born, they have brown stripes that darken to black. Why would their skin change color?