Wondering Why?

Why do Zebras have stripes?

Why do Zebras have stripes?

Zebras belong to the Horse family, and they fall under domestic horses. There are three kinds of Zebra. The Common Zebra, Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra. The first type is common, while the other two types are endangered. These three types differ in their distribution of stripes on the rump, belly and all over the body. Their habitat and distribution is varied all over the African continent. Zebras have strong bodies and legs, big ears, stiff manes, and small hooves which are striped. The different kinds of Zebras differ because some have white legs, brown shadowed stripes in between black and white stripes, narrow stripes, and leg stripes all the way down to the hooves. Grevy’s Zebras have large rounded ears. It is strange to know that no two Zebras have the same stripe pattern, just like the human DNA fingerprint.

The reason behind the stripes on zebras is not exactly known, but there are theories like that air above the black stripes is warm, and above the white stripes it is cool, swirling around, to fan the animal. There is another theory that the stripes act like a camouflage for the zebra to protect it from its predator, the lion. Though the stripes are black and white while the grasses are green and yellow, the lion is colorblind, and cannot identify zebras in between the grasses. So the stripes will mix up with the grasses, and help the animal to escape from the lion. As they travel in herds, lions cannot make out a single zebra in the giant mass of them. So stripes protect them in the herd from the lion’s identification. When the female zebra gives birth to a foal, the foal will have the same stripes as the mother zebra for few days, so that it can learn the stripe pattern on its mother, and identify its mother from the other zebras in the group. The zebra stripes also confuse the lion as to the distance it is away from the lion. i.e. the distance the Lion has to travel in order to attack the zebra.

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