Can Zebras Survive in Cold Weather? (Explained)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Zebras, whether they are Plain, Grevy’s or Mountain, are predominantly African and as a result, for centuries they have had to adapt to the harsh weather conditions of the continent- particularly her heat.

But, have you ever wondered whether these majestic creatures could survive in cold weather?

If you have, the answer is Yes. Zebras can survive in cold weather and this article contains evidence backing up our claim. Stay with us!

Can Zebras Survive In Cold Weather?

Can Zebras Survive in Cold Weather

The simple answer is yes. Zebras can survive in cold weather.

Whereas the general picture that most people get when they think about the region of Africa in which Zebras naturally call home is the fact that it is hot over there, what they fail to bring into reckoning is that seasons change- even in Africa.

Africa may not have the usual Summer, Autumn, Spring, or Winter, but she has her own variation.

For most parts, there’s the Dry season and the Rainy season. During the Dry Season, there’s no rain but at some stage comes the Harmattan with its wind that brings early morning chills.

It’s a condition that can in a manner of speaking be termed “cold weather”.

What’s more, during Africa’s Rainy season, the rain comes pouring down bringing along with it cooler conditions and what can also be termed “cold weather”.

Additionally, since there is no gainsaying that mountainous regions can be very cold, the species of Zebra who live at the height of about 15,000 feet on the slopes of Mount Kenya have no doubt adapted to survive and thrive in very cold weather conditions.

Moreso, Zebras that live in captivity can be found in almost all regions of the world with differing weather conditions to the one that they are used to.

So, it aligns with reason that even though these colorful animals are more adapted to tropical conditions, their sturdy nature makes it possible for them to live in cold weather.

Here is an article I wrote on are zebras faster than horses?

What Makes Zebras Survive In Cold Weather?

Most animals who live in areas with cold weather have adapted winter coats for themselves to give them an extra layer and shield them from the elements.

Zebras are part of that group even if their coat does not have as much thickness as the fur coat of horses.

What they lack in adaptive features, they make up for in sheer toughness and resilience.

In captivity, it’s a different ball game entirely because zookeepers do their utmost to ensure the survival of Zebras in cold weather.

The zoos are usually equipped with adequate shelter to protect the animals from the effects of cold weather.

Examples of these equipment may include heat beams to ensure that the Zebras do not become overcome with hypothermia.

Also, the Zebras are regularly fed foods that would boost the fat in their system to ensure that their bodies continue to generate heat internally.

What Temperature Can Zebras Live In?

Zebras, hailing from Africa, can live in very hot temperatures, but they can live in very cold temperatures as well.

Customarily, Zebras in the wild are used to temperatures as hot as 70 to 80 degrees.

They are able to survive such intensely hot conditions because the white on their coat helps them reflect back the light of the sun and some of that heat.

Mountain Zebras have been known to endure very chilly temperatures because they reside at the elevation of about 15,000 on the slopes of Mount Kenya.

So, it would seem that they are an all weather species.

What Do Zebras Do In The Winter?

Most animals take cover in the winter. The bears hibernate, as do many others.

But Zebras aren’t like that. In the winter just as during any other time of the year, they go about their business of eating for most part of the day, wherever food can be found.

They thrive on plants and can sometimes feed on fruit, especially in captivity.

Eating helps them keep warm because of the high metabolism which helps them produce heat that their bodies need during winter.

In the winter, they grow a fur coat to give them an additional layer of protection from the cold.

In captivity, given the range of equipment put in place to ensure their comfort, the changing of seasons may not be as noticeable for them as heat lamps and heat beams continue to keep the reserve warm enough for the Zebras.

Also check out this article I wrote on can zebras eat meat

Can Zebras Survive in North America?

Yes, Zebras can survive in North America even in winter and the reasons are simple.

  • High metabolism

Zebras have fast or high metabolism. This means that they are more adept than most when it comes to producing and retaining body heat.

  • Adaptive features

Animals develop adaptive features to help them cope with the challenges that they find in their habitat.

The same is true of Zebras that can easily grow winter coats to help them cope with cold they would experience from living in North America. 

Additionally, as observed in some Zebras in the wild of Africa, when the temperature becomes too low, they move to other parts with more suitable weather conditions.

If Zebras reside in North America and they are faced with troublesome weather, they would move to other parts of the continent with more favorable and suitable conditions.

Can Zebras Live In Snow?

Yes, Zebras can live in snow.

For one, they possess the ability to grow fur coats that helps them retain the heat that they are able to produce as a result of their fast metabolism.

For another the fur coat also helps to keep them from being affected by the cold.

For Zebras in zoos, heated barns and enclosures ensure that they do not feel the cold as much.

In fact, a Professor of Zoology at Princeton University had this to say on the subject: “Zebras are known to live in colder climes — he points to a population of zebras living at about 15,000 feet up on the slopes of Mount Kenya who have adapted to chilly temperatures.

These zebras can probably handle the cold or they’ll move to warmer climates as they do in Africa,… as with most equids, they have a winter coat.

It will thicken and keep them warm. They have a high metabolism and as long as they have enough food, that’ll serve as fuel and generate heat to keep them warm.”


Zebras are resilient creatures.

This fact is evident in the fact that despite poaching and hunting by both man and beasts, they have continued to thrive.

Yes, their population may have been cut down to just three species but as this article has sought to show, they will thrive no matter the conditions that they are subjected to.

And given the depth of conservatory work put in place to ensure their survival, who knows, someday soon, we may have Zebras brazing the cold of North America.

Photo of author

About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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