What Do Animals Eat?

What Do Zebras Eat?

Posted In: Mammals.

The zebra is an obvious relative of the horse; it is a herding animal that lives mostly in light bush or savanna grasslands although there is a species that favor mountainous territory. No zebra has ever been successfully tamed, so they are seldom ridden or used as harness animals. They are social creatures that live in harems, with a stallion and up to six females and their offspring.

A zebra eating leavesZebra eating leaves. © Brucew29.

The bachelor males

The bachelor males are excluded from the family as soon as they approach maturity, and they live alone or in groups of bachelors until they get strong enough to challenge the dominant male for the harem. They are often seen in huge migratory herds traveling and journeying in the company of wildebeest and gazelles, with whom they appear to have a symbiotic relationship. This is a famous sight on the Serengeti plains in Kenya and Tanzania as well as in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where large herds of zebra and wildebeest exist in the wild.

A zebra’s diet

A Grevy's zebra grazingA Grevy’s zebra grazing. © .

Their diet is almost exclusively grass (a herbivore), sometimes they mix it with leaves of shrubs, herbs and bark. They are adaptable grazers however, able to eat many grasses. They can be adventurous as well. A zebra will start on areas of tall grass in wetlands. The wildebeest will tend to follow only once the grass is trampled flat or clipped shorter. This grassland herding is important for protection against lions and hyenas, as they like to prey on zebra but will be challenged by the herd.

Lions and hyenas

Lions and hyenas will always try and separate an individual or young zebra from the herd as the herd itself will form a “laager” when under attack with the females and young on the inside and the stallions fending off the attack with vicious kicks from their hooves. Farmers are known to regard zebras as pests as they compete with their cattle and other grazing animals for water and resources. They are also hunted for their skins and their meat is popular among certain peoples.