Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Z.....is for Zebra
The stripes on a Zebra are unique, just like fingerprints are unique on each human. It is being studied, but at this time it's unknown if Zebras are able to recognize each other by their striping. When a foal is born, it is brown and white striped rather than black and white. And since we are on the subject of stripes.....rather than black stripes on a white background as previously thought, it is white stripes on a black background....underneath the white, the skin is black.
When a foal is born, the mother keeps all other Zebras away for 2 to 3 days so it will recognize her scent and her striping as well as her unique call. Their calls sound more like a puppy yelping than what you would figure they would sound like.....a horse. A foal can stand within a few minutes of being born and can run within an hour.
They have exceptional eyesight and hearing and even have night vision as well as an owl. Their sense of smell and taste are also extremely keen. They sleep standing up and always alert. They tend to stay in small herds, one stallion to a harem of mares. The stallion, however, doesn't always stay with them. There will be a dominant mare who is always at the front of the line with her foal.....the pecking order aligns with their place in the line. Rather than being scattered about, they walk in a single file line, the dominant mare in the lead....each foal right behind its mother. They form family groups and even if they later join a larger herd, each family group will stick together within. Each member of the family will look out for the other members of their family, even coming to their aid in the event of an attack.
Their diet is similar to that of a horse and since their teeth are always grinding up the grasses, some of them quite dry, they get worn down. Therefore, their teeth are always growing.
It is thought that the striping confuses predators when a lot of Zebras are bunched together, making it look like one huge animal rather than a lot of smaller ones. If Zebras are attacked, the mares will gather the foals and circle around them for protection while the stallion fights off the threat.
I've just covered the basics here as there are different sub-species and their striping is a bit different, some with wider stripes or narrower stripes. The more narrow the stripes, the better it acts as a repellent from horse flies and the dreaded tsetse fly , which is another strange fact.
Ok, we're through with zoology for today......and this is also the end of the Challenge. Hope you all have enjoyed it.