Zebras are easily recognizable animals mainly due to the black and white stripes. Zebras usually have some unique features which are not known by many people. Read on to discover more about the zebra.
- Zebras Are Black With White Stripes
You will often hear many people saying that zebras have black and white stripes. However, let us look at this matter from a different view to understand it better.
All animals contain melanocyte cells in their bodies which give the body its dark pigmentation. Likewise, zebras also have melanocyte cells. The white stripes of the zebras represent areas where the melanocytes cells were absent hence there was no production of melanin. This makes the parts remain white. Otherwise, if melanin was evenly distributed in the whole body the original color of the zebra would be black. We can then say zebras are black with white stripes.
The zebras also contain a transcription factor called Al×3. It is responsible for turning the melanocytes cells which produce melanin at some point to give time to the development of the white stripes.
- Zebra Stripes Are Unique Like Fingerprints
Every zebra has a unique pattern of stripes. This difference enables the zebras to be differentiated from each other. This enables a baby zebra to be able to know its mother from a large herd by just looking at the pattern. Also when a zebra is lost, it can find its family by just looking at the patterns.
The stripes also favor zebras in many other ways. You will find that the areas occupied by zebras are mostly filled with harmful insects such as tsetse flies. Such insects can cause diseases to the zebra. However, with the white stripes, it makes it difficult to seed the zebras and they just pass them or even fall. The stripes also enable the zebra to regulate its temperature. The black color takes the heat into the zebra’s body when it’s cold and the white color reflects heat when it is in excess.
- There Are Three Species Each Having Different Types of Stripes
There are three species of zebras in the world which are Grevy’s zebra, Plains zebra and Mountain zebra
The Grevy’s zebra has a lot of stripes on its body which are close together. However, these zebras do not have any stripes on their underbody. This normally distinguishes it from the rest. The Grevy’s zebra is mostly found in Kenya and Tanzania. These zebras have more weight than the plain zebras and are also taller than the Plain zebras.
It is also called the Burchell’s zebra or common zebra. The stripes of a plain zebra tend to be vertical on the front part and progress to being horizontal towards the hind parts. The stripes of a plain zebra are also very large and have a wide distance between them.
Of all the zebra species the mountain zebras are the smallest in size. Their whole body is filled with stripes, except their stomachs. If you look closely enough you will notice the stripes on their head and body are smaller than those on their behind.
- Zebras Can Cross-Bred With Other Equines
When a zebra cross breed with other equines it produces a zebroid. Specifically, a zebra stallion and a horse mare will produce a zorse when they cross breed. The color which will be possessed by the zorse will rely entirely on the gene color of the mother. The zorse will also acquire the same size and shape as the mother. The stripes of the zorse will take after those of the father which is the zebra.
The features of the zorse are greatly advanced from those of the parents. The zorse can resist some of the diseases which attack the horse and the zebra. The zorse is also able to detect the slightest sound or even smell very easily. The whole process of cross-breeding the horse and the zebra can be rather difficult as the animals themselves dislike it. Cross-breeding can also result in a reproduction of an infertile zorse. The zorse cannot reproduce further.
- Zebras Cannot Be Domesticated
Trying to domesticate zebras or teaching them to do something will only be a waste of time. Any animal which is to be domesticated needs to be friendly to the people. This is not the case with zebras. A single kick from a zebra is said to be so severe that it can break the jaw of a lion. The zebras are also known to have a very vicious bite.
In the early days man used to domesticate the zebra alongside the horse as they seemed similar except for the stripes. However, the zebra was not submissive to men according to the orders he gave as the horse was. It proved to be a difficult task to make the zebra do some tasks due to its wild nature.
- Zebras Can Snooze Standing Up!
The zebra falls in the category of animals which can sleep while they stand. The other animals are giraffes, elephants and horses. The zebras are prone to be attacked by predators. When they sleep while they are standing it enables them to be very alert just in case there is a predator nearby. While they sleep while standing, zebras tend to be closer to each other than when lying on the ground. Zebras usually prefer being together as a group as their security will be enhanced. Even when many of the zebras are asleep there will always be that one zebra which will be on the lookout for predators.
- Zebras Have Unique Social Structures
Within a group, zebras tend to stay together in smaller family groups, made of a dominant male, several females( called ‘mares’) and their young( called ‘ foals’). When they are between one and three years old, males ( or stallions) leave to join ‘all bachelors’ herd ( all-male groups) and stay until they are old enough and strong enough to compete with females. Every group of zebras has a head which is the stallion.