Animals can be classed under different categories. We know that some are termed wild and others termed domestic.
For the purpose of this article, we shall be classifying them based on the type of food that they consume.
Since Zebras are our focus for this article, just what kind of animals are they? The simple answer is that Zebras are animals that do not eat meat.
They are simply not structured that way. From their dentition to their stomach or even their hoofs, it is quite evident that Zebras aren’t meant to eat meat.
In this article, we will address all the questions you may have about the Zebras’ inability to eat meat and even do you one better. We will tell you what Zebras eat.
Can Zebras Eat Meat?
No, as we have mentioned before, Zebras cannot eat meat.
This member of the equine family alongside horses and donkeys are unable to consume meat.
While there may exist the argument that even if wild Zebras do not eat meat, it is very possible that if they are domesticated from a young age and fed meat, they would grow into meat-loving or meat-eating-Zebras.
But that argument is false and erroneous because it fails to take into consideration one important factor.
This means that the digestive systems and the dentition of the Zebras work against them.
Starting with the latter, Zebras have dentitions especially designed for grazing.
Their teeth that are largely made up of huge incisors and highly crowned ridged molars are only suitable for clipping glass blades and grinding them.
Besides, only male Zebras have spade-like canines that they use when fighting for territory or for mates.
Their dentition is therefore not suited for tearing into flesh as is apparent with carnivorous animals like lions and leopards, the predators of the Zebra.
Here is an article I wrote on can zebras swim?
Why Can’t Zebras Eat Meat?
Zebras can’t eat meat because they are herbivorous animals.
This entails that they were not designed to function on meat and this fact is evident in everything about them.
Early, we alluded to the nature of their dentition.
We mentioned that their teeth are more adapted towards clipping glass and grounding grass than tearing into meat because they lack the canines of carnivores whose survival is dependent on meat consumption.
Additionally, without the necessary weapon of sharp canines, it is nigh impossible for Zebras to hunt down and kill other animals for meat.
While they have the running or chasing part down, with it’s time to strike or execute, their dentition would surely serve as a letdown.
Another reason why Zebras can’t eat meat is because of their digestive system.
Whereas the stomach of carnivorous animals is equipped with powerful stomach acid that can dissolve meat, Zebras have stomachs adapted to dissolving plants.
In fact, their stomach is much more efficient at breaking down plants and getting the best of nutrients from them than, say, cows.
Besides, Zebras with their hoofs cannot track down prey as their predators.
As watching a brief clip of any animal documentary on these Black and White equines of the African savannah and mountains will quickly reveal, their hoofs would make them very clumsy hunters.
Whereas, the predators of the Zebra exhibit knife-like claws that they employ in hanging on to their prey as they take it down before sinking their teeth into its jugular, the Zebra’s lack of all these artillery means that it can’t replicate its predators.
And as such, it can’t eat meat even if it wanted to.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Feeding Them Meat?
Meat contains a lot of nutrients and energy for animals that consume it.
But the Zebra being a strict herbivore is not part of the group of animals that feed on meat.
Instead, Zebras feed majorly on plants and can sometimes feed on fruit, especially in captivity.
But what if a Zebra is force fed meat, what then? What are the disadvantages of feeding Zebras meat?
Here are a few:
As we mentioned earlier, Zebras can’t eat meat because of their digestive system.
Whereas the stomach of a carnivore is equipped with powerful stomach acid that can dissolve meat, Zebras have stomachs adapted to dissolving plants.
So, it follows that one disadvantage of feeding Zebras meat would be them suffering indigestion as a result of their stomach’s inability to digest or break down meat.
As humans, when we suffer indigestion, it makes us uncomfortable and sick. The same would be true of Zebras that feed on meat.
A sick Zebra in the wild is at danger because predators are always on the prowl and take a wild guess at their favored cuisine: weak prey.
Food is important for every living organism.
Food supplies us with the necessary nutrient we need to function. Without food, we would all die. Zebras are no exception to this rule.
So continually feeding Zebras with meat which their bodies cannot process would deprive them of the nutrients that their bodies so badly need to thrive in the animal kingdom where they always need to be on the run.
Without the food that their bodies can process they could die of natural causes even before a predator gets them.
Also check out this article I wrote on why zebras attack their young ones
What Can Zebras Not Eat?
Zebras cannot eat meat.
Even if it is force-fed to Zebras in captivity, they will suffer the consequences as their teeth are not structured or adapted for tearing into meat.
And even if it passes this first obstacle, Zebras do not possess a stomach adapted to digest meat.
Their single-chambered stomachs are adapted to grass and plant digestion alone.
What Do Zebras Eat?
Mostly, Zebras eat plants.
They eat no meat as they are strict herbivores.
Grass makes up as much as 90% of their diet. Grass contains the necessary nutrients to keep them going.
Nutrients which are absolved by their specially adapted stomachs which are even more adept at making the most of plants than that of cows.
Because of their eating pattern and tastes, it is commonplace to see Zebras graze with other animals with the same taste in food such as wildebeests, antelopes and buffalos.
However, Zebras have for centuries adapted their choice of food to what is available in Africa’s tough climate.
This means that where it becomes difficult to find fresh grass of their choice, Zebras have been known to eat dry low-nutrient plants.
In fact, in dire conditions, they can survive on barks, twigs, hardy shrubs, legumes and even flowers.
In captivity, they have been observed eating treats like carrots and apples.
On the other hand, baby Zebras called foals, survive on milk from their mothers’ breasts for almost a year before they resume their grass and shrub diet.
How Much Can A Zebra Eat In A Day?
Zebras spend most part of their day eating.
On average, they spend about 60 to 80% of their day eating grass or shrubs. That’s about 16 hours or so dedicated to the consumption of food.
No wonder predators find them particularly tasty.
The three species of the Zebra, namely; the Plain Zebra, The Grevy Zebra, the Mountain Zebra all live in Africa.
Alongside these Black and White creatures that have come to represent beauty and peace are a number of other grass-eating herbivores.
And no, they don’t eat meat, they are meat sought after by the predators of the African continent.