Picture of zebra habitat
Burchell's zebras at Mara Masai Reserve, Kenya
Image: Esculapio

Zebra habitat

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BY EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS Google Plus Profile


zebra face
Zebra habitat can include open plains, semi-desert, open woodlands, and even mountainous regions. This variation occurs because there are three types of zebra, Burchell's zebra (Equus burchelli), Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi), and the mountain zebra (Equus zebra).¹ Zebras are found in the more arid portions of eastern and southern Africa. Their range is greatly reduced from what it was in former times.

Grevy's zebra lives in the most xeric habitat of the three, the sub-desert region of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia between the range of Burchell's zebra to the south, and the African wild ass to the north. Equus grevyi can live off of tough desert grasses that are inedible to cattle.

Burchell's zebra is found in a more varied range of habitats, ranging from savanna, to open woodland and scrub, to grassland. It also can occur in hilly, or even mountainous, country up to an elevation of 4,400 meters. It's much more dependent on the availability of fresh water than is Grevy's zebra.

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As its name suggests, the mountain zebra generally occurs in mountainous or hilly regions. Like Burchell's, most of its diet is composed of grass, with the addition of some browse.

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1. A fourth type of zebra, the quagga, often described as an extinct species, is a probable hybrid between the domestic horse and Burchell's zebra. More information >>
zebra habitat
Zebras aren't restricted to pure grassland



Map of Burchell's zebra's distribution in Africa
Burchell's zebra's distribution. Red: former range; Green: present range. Map: Pmaas

Map of mountain zebra's distribution in Africa
Mountain zebra's distribution. Map: Harald Süpfle
Map of distribution of Grevy's zebra in Africa
Distribution of Grevy's zebra. Map: Chermundy
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