Feeding African Zebras

African Zebras 20

Zebras are herbivores. They are grazers living in herds. They are water-dependent and can adapt to a variety of grasses. Their diet ranges from young shoots to full-grown grass. Zebras aren’t ruminants.

The diet of zebras mainly consists of grass. Grass, shrubs, twigs, bark and leaves are all a part of the Zebras’ diet; however, grass is the primary part. Their digestive system and metabolism are such that they can thrive on a low-nutrition diet. They can digest coarse grasses which other herbivores cannot. This way, zebras help other wild grazers by consuming coarse grass and leaving softer grass for them. They grip the grass with their lips and bite it off with their front teeth. They use their molars to grind the food. Typically, zebras seek green pastures. During the dry months of the year, they thrive on dry grass. Zebras tend to remain in the proximity of water holes. They inhabit grasslands, the savannas, as also the coastal, hilly or mountainous regions. Zebras have a large appetite. They spend almost 60% of the time of their day eating. They eat tall grasses growing in wet soils. When food is scarce, about 80% of their time is spent eating. In the wild, zebras feed on even grass stems and sheath. In the zoos, they are fed hay, oats and alfalfa.

Unlike other grazing animals like cows, zebras do not ruminate. This is why they extract less nutrition from the food they eat. From this arises their need to graze all day. Search for food is the prime reason for their migration. Generally, wildebeests and zebras migrate together. They are often seen grazing together. An interesting thing about the way zebras graze is that some bend down to eat while others look around to guard against predators. As such, zebras are unselective eaters in comparison to other herbivores.

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