Zebras are known for their unique striped pattern on their coats. It is so iconic that zebra stripes have dominated the fashion world for years. Their striped coat has also sparked the debate of whether they are white and black or the other way around.
But what purpose does their coat serve, and how many stripes are there on their body?
From camouflaging against predators to keeping them cool, zebra stripes have plenty of benefits. This unique animal uses their striped coat to survive in the wild. Every zebra has a unique coat with a varying number of stripes. On average, there are between 50 and 86 stripes on a zebra.
If you’re a fan of zebras and want to learn more about them, keep reading! We’ve mentioned some fantastic and surprising facts about this majestic striped animal.
How Many Stripes Does A Zebra Have?
Although it looks like zebras have hundreds of stripes, that is not true. A zebra has an average of around 50 to 86 stripes. This can vary depending on the species of zebra.
Zebras that have lesser strips are considered to be rare and are endangered as well. The coolest thing about zebra stripes is that no two are the same. Just like fingerprints, each zebra had a different stripe pattern on them.
But each species has stripe patterns that can help them identify their herd. This also means that the number of stripes on a zebra varies. Another surprising fact is that zebras are actually black and have white stripes.
This may seem impossible, considering the black stripes look more prominent. But under their coat, their skin is black. Their coats are also short and thick, keeping them warm during colder months.
Some zebras also have dark brown stripes instead of black.
What Benefits Do Zebra Stripes Have?
Just like most animals in the kingdom, zebra stripes serve a special purpose. Here are just some of the benefits of their stripes.
Keeps Them Safe
Zebras are prey animals, and their main predators are lions, tigers, and hyenas. While zebras have a kick strong enough to kill a lion, it doesn’t mean they are always safe. Their striped coat plays a considerable role in keeping them safe from predators.
Their stripes blend in when they stand amongst tall grass, creating an effective camouflage. This confuses most of their predators. However, newer studies show that this may not be the case.
While it may protect them from certain animals, others can see them perfectly fine. Other research shows zebras stand together in herds to confuse predators with their stripe patterns.
Keeps Flies Away
Blood-sucking flies and other bugs are common in a zebra’s natural habitat. Not only do these pesky bugs bite, but they can also spread diseases. A zebra’s striped coat works as a natural bug repellent.
Their stripes confuse these blood-sucking horse flies. A study used a horse and a zebra to see whether stripes make a difference. It turns out that the flies got dizzy when approaching the zebras, flying right past them.
The horses, on the other hand, got bitten by the flies. In some cultures, humans paint stripes on themselves to keep bugs away, just like zebras.
Helps With Thermoregulation
There is also a theory that zebra stripes help them regulate their body’s temperature. This is because zebra’s black stripes get warmer in the summer than the white ones. However, this is another theory that may be untrue.
This doesn’t mean that zebras don’t have the ability to keep themselves warm. They have thick coat that helps them stay toasty in the winter.
Do All Zebras Have Stripes?
The majority of zebras do have stripes, but there are also a few which don’t. This can be a result of inbreeding. Another reason a zebra may lack stripes is a condition called albinism. But even albino zebras have faint stripes on their body.
Zebra stripes are quite unique since they can vary in width. You’ll notice that some breeds have stripes farther apart than others.
When zebras are younger, their stripes are usually a light brown color. As they grow older, their stripes turn black and white. If you do find a zebra without stripes it may not be a zebra at all!
The cross between a zebra and a horse is called a zorse, and it may not have stripes all over its body like a zebra. You can still spot some stripes, usually around the rear legs, face, and lower body.
Can Zebra Stripes Disappear Over Time
No! Zebra stripes do not disappear over time unless they have a skin condition. A zebra’s stripes’ color stays the same as they grow older. Horses, however, can change the color of their coat as they age.
But zebra stripes do start to fade slightly the older they get. Their stripe pattern doesn’t change either. But what’s underneath their stripey coat?
If you were to shave a zebra you’d see that it is a black animal underneath. The white stripes are formed because of a lack of melanin. If a zebra lost its white stripes, it would look just like a horse!
Here’s another interesting fact about zebras: when their hair grows back, it grows in the same stripe pattern as before!
As discussed, zebra stripes have many benefits to them. Zebras also run in a zig-zag pattern when chased by a predator. Combined with their stripes, this can confuse their predator and keep them safe.
Zebra’s keep their striped coats clean by rubbing against trees and rocks. They also help their mates clean using their teeth. Zebra’s are also known to roll around in the sand to keep their coat looking healthy.
They are truly an amazing creature, and their stripes are proof that nature is wonderful. We hope this article helps you learn all about zebra’s and their stripes.