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Zebras | Toro River Lodges

Zebras have stripes! Why?

The Fact Of The Day

There have been multiple theories and studies done on why the zebras have stripes. As it is clearly a unique pattern in the animal kingdom, and frankly, it seems to stand out more when compared to other animal patterns.

Surely such an extreme of black and white would make an animal more of a target? But interestingly enough, some have suggested that the stripes do still serve a purpose of camouflage!

How? When zebras are running as a group, the many black and white stripes can actually be quite confusing for predators. For in the eyes of a predator, the zebras seem to become a frenzied unison of stripes. This makes it more difficult to single out the weakest zebras. Which is what a predator, like a lion, must do in order to efficiently hunt and kill its prey.

But a more intriguing theory is that the stripes are actually used against disease-carrying tsetse flies!
These nasty little flies have a difficult time recognizing striped surfaces, and therefore they are less liking to land on the striped pelt of the zebra.

Yet another possible reason for the stripes is thermoregulation.
Due to the fact that zebras digest food less efficiently than other grazers, zebras have to spend a lot more eating during the heat of the day. And long hours in the hot African sun, as you can imagine, is quite trying!
So, therefore, in order to control their body heat, the zebra’s stripes are amazingly able to generate small-scale breezes over the zebra’s body, when the light and dark stripes heat up at different rates.